BOOK REVIEW

“BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON “

Written by Khalid Kishtainy

Published by Quartett Books

SBN 9780704371262

Hardback

By the Rivers of Babylon is a harrowing tale with a love story at its core. Two Iraqi brothers take their sister to a Jewish gynaecologist to establish whether or not she is pregnant. If so, he must remove the foetus, show it to them and then kill her. If he deceives them, they will come back and kill him. Starting from this dramatic incident, the novel weaves a tale of flight, intrigue, heroism, conflict and madness against the background of the maelstrom of the Middle East. The dramatic story, full of details about the life and suffering of the Jewish community in Iraq, places great emphasis on the human issues involved, the prospect of Arab-Jewish understanding and the need for peace between Israel and the Arab states. Khalid Kishtainy’s abundant humanity and ironic perspective, however, allows the reader to understand the consequences of a just a single shaming moment in this seemingly endless conflict.