"Saad Hossain's perplexingly weird debut novel, Escape From Baghdad!, captures the pure insanity of the Iraq War. At the same time, it's not a war novel. Instead, it's a skillfully constructed literary IED that brings together the sharpest aspects from multiple genres. It's a Tarantino-esque Heart of Darkness set in war-torn Iraq, filled with absurdism and dark humor, a mash-up of satirical Joseph Heller-style comedy and sci-fi fantasy with a gratuitous mixture of good old-fashioned ultra-violence." Colby Buzzell, VICE
"Set in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq, Bangladeshi author Saad Hossain’s debut novel is a riot of mordant humour and gonzo storytelling
The Gulf war may just have found its Catch-22." James Lovegrove, The Financial Times
"Saad Z. Hossain’s Escape From Baghdad! may be the hippest, weirdest, most creative and visionary book yet to emerge from the full-on debacle that was W’s still-simmering Iraq war. Hossain's unique blend of satire, mythology and speculative fiction makes Escape a hold-onto-your-hat tilt-a-whirl joy to read. And, quite possibly, a future classic in its own right." Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight, Happy Mutant Baby Pills, I, Fatty
One of Library Journal's Key Spring Titles for 2015
"Hossain daringly shows us that war isn’t just hell but absolutely insane." Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
"Saad Hossain has given us a hilarious and searing indictment of the project we euphemistically call 'nation-building.' With nods to Catch-22, Frankenstein, The Island of Doctor Moreau and the Golem myth, Escape from Baghdad! weaves fantasy, absurdity and adventure into a moving counter-narrative to the myth of the just war." Daniel José Older, NPR
"It’s a marvelous mix of genres, blending the visceral atmosphere of a war movie with the casual nihilism of Catch-22 or the original M.A.S.H. complete with an Indiana Jonesstyle treasure quest
A gonzo adventure novel that shreds the conventional wisdom that pulp can be pigeonholed." Kirkus Reviews
"Escape from Baghdad! is a virtuoso performance, both utterly heartbreaking and riotously, laugh-out-loud funny... I wanted to stand up and applaud when it was finished, but I didn't want it to finish. I could not recommend it enough." Lavie Tidhar, World Fantasy Award winning author of Osama.
"Saad Z Hossain’s upcoming Escape from Baghdad! (The Unnamed Press, March 2015) is the sci-fi and fantasy writer’s debut novel, characterized as an ArabianNightsesque thriller. Having set the book in modern-day Iraq, Hossain started off his research reading blogs written by American soldiers in Iraq, and then braided together Norse and Greek mythologies." Ploughshares
"Saad Hossain is the author of Escape from Baghdad!, an engrossing cross between Zero Dark Thirty and Raiders of the Lost Ark that takes a sobering look at America's troubled legacy in Iraq." Bookslut
We've seen any number of heartbreakingly beautiful novels and story collections on the current conflict in the Middle East, but this isn't one of them. Instead, it's a scathingly funny account of floundering black marketeers Dagr and Kinza, who find themselves responsible for the man who was once Saddam Hussein's lead torturer. Though Kinza's thoughts are at first bloody—"We should kill him…. But nothing too orthodox"—ultimately they enlist the help of a U.S. Marine to smuggle him out of Baghdad. VERDICT A Bangladesh-based author of fantasy, sf, and (no surprise here) black comedy, Hossain daringly shows us that war isn't just hell but absolutely insane.
In the dark days leading up to the Iraq War, two black marketeers blunder into an ancient conspiracy involving a secret sect of Islamic mystics.Here's the thing: If you're going to write pulp fiction, jump in with both feet and let the blood fly. That's what Bangladesh-based journalist Hossain has done in this kinetic debut novel set in the exploding streets of Baghdad. Our "good guys," so to speak, are Dagr, a widowed former professor of economics who's turned to crime in the wake of the U.S. invasion, and Kinza, an anarchist berserker who can't wait for the bad things to come—"When the rage comes, just stay behind him, that's all," warns Dagr of Kinza. It wasn't very pretty in the city in those days. "It's a war," observes one of Kinza's corrupt connections. "We kill you, you kill us, who cares? The important thing is to have a sense of humor about it. When we were bombing the Kurds, do you think they were crying like babies?" This bickering duo is trying to get out of the city when they're hired by a local sheik to track down the shadowy "Lion of Akkad," a suspected serial killer who turns out to be a centenarian mental patient named Afzal Taha with ties to the Druze, the aforementioned cult. Unfortunately, during a skirmish, Kinza shoots the son of Hassan Salemi, a particularly nasty imam with a thirst for bloodshed. To facilitate their movement through the war-torn city, the two renegades enlist the help of Marine Pvt. Hoffman, a dope-smoking, rule-breaking hooligan who's supposed to be looking for weapons of mass destruction but really just wants to be in country to "blow shit up." It's a marvelous mix of genres, blending the visceral atmosphere of a war movie with the casual nihilism of Catch-22 or the original M.A.S.H. complete with an Indiana Jones-style treasure quest to employ a mystical watch that doesn't tell time to unleash the ancient power of the Druze before the sect's ancient Alchemist, the real enemy, catches up with them. A gonzo adventure novel that shreds the conventional wisdom that pulp can be pigeonholed.