Book review – Dates on my fingers

Dates on my fingers
By Muhsin Al Ramli,translated by Luke Leafgreen
published by AUC Press
ISBN 9789774166
Price $16.50 paperback


A colourful, fast-paced novel of youthful love, post-conflict violence, and family honour that moves between the villages and prisons of Iraq and the nightclubs of Madrid.dates on my fingers

Saleem, fed up with all the violence, religiosity, and strict family hierarchies of his Iraqi village, flees to Spain to establish a new life for himself. But his lonely exile is turned upside down when he encounters his father, Noah, in a Madrid nightclub after not seeing him in more than a decade. Noah looks and acts like a new man, and Saleem sets out to discover the mystery of his father’s presence in Spain and his altered life. In doing so, he recalls formative moments in Iraq of familial love, war, and the haunting accidental death of his cousin Aliya, Saleem’s partner in the hesitant, tender exploration of sexuality. When the renewed relationship with his father erupts in a violent conflict, Saleem is forced to rediscover his sense of self and the hard-won stability of his life. Through Saleem’s experiences and reflections, the fast-paced narrative carries the reader between Spain and Iraq to a surprising resolution.

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