The Sirens of Baghdad - Yasmina Khadra

Overwhelming and illuminating reading. It brings out the truth and the reality of Iraq I could have never imagined on my own.

We follow a student in his home village, Kafr Karam, in the wake of the American invasion. He was forced to leave the university and now spends his days in a small village with his family. When American soldiers invade their village he is irrevocably humiliated and refuses to stay in his home. Immediately he is on the road to Baghdad and his revenge. When shame is brought upon a bedouin and / or his family, he cannot rest until the revenge is exacted in blood. In Baghdad, he becomes a part of a terrorist group that will eventually assign him on a most dangerous mission so far.

I have to say that this was no easy reading. It is a powerful book that leaves you questioning yourself and your views on the world. I realized just how much our cultures differ and it wasn't easy following the train of thought author sets before us. At first, I was trying to see things through his eyes and trying to engage myself in it but as the story progressed I gave up. With my view, my culture and my upbringing I could never understand his feelings on that level. All I could do was explain it at some rational level.

I do not approve American invasion of Iraq. I also do not approve how Iraq retaliated. I can never understand terrorism. Taking innocent lives in order to prove a point is beyond my grasp. It's even worse when natives want to hurt American soldiers but instead kill dozens of their own, innocents, infants, children, elderly. People who have nothing to do with atrocities of war. I can never ever understand taking lives of your own people as an excuse of defending your country, culture and future children. When one would always retaliate in such a manner, the world would soon be obliterated.

This book had me confused at times. I felt the humiliation and saw how difficult it is to be helpless and unheard amongst thousands of those seeking satisfaction and revenge in the streets of Baghdad. But I couldn't understand how they perceive honor, how personal it is for them, how they are born with it. My feelings were mixed and divided. And that's why this is a terrifying but must read book. It won't leave you empty. It will leave you with questions, opinions, ideas and feelings. Feelings of compassion, trust, empathy, heartbreak, disgust and a need to act, a need to speak your mind.