Anonymous Iraqi woman's blog gives a human face to war and occupation.
Publishers WeeklyIraqi women's voices have been virtually silent since the fall of Baghdad. Yet four months after Saddam's statue toppled in April 2003, the pseudonymous Riverbend, a Baghdad native then 24 years old, began blogging about life in the city in dryly idiomatic English and garnered an instant following that rivals Salam Pax's Where Is Raed? This year's worth of Riverbend's commentary-passionate, frustrated, sarcastic and sometimes hopeful-runs to September 2004. Before the war, Riverbend was a computer programmer ("yes, yes... a geek"), living with her parents and brother in relative affluence; as she chronicles the privations her family experiences under occupation, there is a good deal of "complaining and ranting" about erratic electricity, intermittent water supplies, near daily explosions, gas shortages and travel restrictions. She rails against the interim governing council ("the puppet government") and Bush and his administration-and is sardonic on Islamic fundamentalism: as Al Sadr and his followers begin to emerge, Riverbend quotes the Carpenters's "We've Only Just Begun." But Riverbend is most compelling when she gives cultural object lessons on everything from the changing status of Iraqi women to Ramadan, the Iraqi educational system, the significance of date palms and the details of mourning rituals. Just as fascinating are the mundane facts of daily life, like her unsuccessful attempt to go back to work-no one would guarantee the safety of a woman in the workplace. The blog continues at riverbendblog.blogspot.com; like this book, it offers quick takes on events as they occur, from a perspective too often overlooked, ignored or suppressed. First serial to Ms. Magazine. (May 2) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsRiverbend is an Iraqi woman of 24 who "survived the war. That's all you need to know," she wrote on the first day of her Weblog, August 17, 2003. "It's all that matters these days anyway." Throughout this vivid account of occupied Iraq, though-seen here in a literal transcription of her first year's worth of blog entries-we learn a lot more: we learn that in Baghdad, you wake up either in a jolt, after a scream or a gunshot, or slowly, fuzzily, pulling out of a hazy sleep in which you struggled against some horrific specter; that our blogger can't go outside her home without a male escort, unless she wants to be insulted, leered and jeered at, possibly kidnapped; and that though she practices Islam, she does not want an Islamic government. Riverbend excoriates Bush and the "puppets" he has put in place to rule Iraq. She comments on everything from the financing of reconstruction and the shenanigans at Halliburton to the feasibility of a Kurdish state and the impact of Islamic Shari'a law on women. She also charts an ordinary life-ordinary, that is, in decidedly unordinary circumstances. While en route to visit an aunt, for instance, she decides not to wear sunglasses, lest she attract "undue attention" at a checkpoint. Meanwhile, she's determined to correct what she perceives as bigoted ideas about Iraq: Iraq is home to many engineers and other professionals, she insists; Iraqis have computers (apparently, when her blog first started, some naysayers charged that Riverbend couldn't possibly be Iraqi, because Iraqis don't have or know how to use computers, let alone how to write in Riverbend's polished English), and Iraqis will happily watch American films and drink American sodas. Theysimply don't want to die at American hands, or live under American rule. Feisty and learned: first-rate reading for any American who suspects that Fox News may not be telling the whole story.
- Feminist Press at CUNY, The
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Write a Review
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >