A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2020!
One of Vulture's Fall 2020 Best New Books
A Chicago Review of Books Must-Read Book of September 2020
“Out of Mesopotamia is extraordinary and a novel every American should read. Salar Abdoh writes page after page of kinetic fiction. A novel so ambitious and exciting, to say this book is full of truth is to shortchange it; this is a book full of art.”
Asterix Journal, recommended by Emily Raboteau
"An unprecedented novel, one that captures the brutality, absurdity and, yes, beauty of war from the grounded perspective of an Iranian man straddling multiple worlds."
"Profound...With first-hand experience with militias in Iraq and Syria, Abdoh travels between war and peace in his novel, picking up on the in-between moments, the ones that are not glorified and where suffering is silent."
Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
"Maybe this is at the heart of Abdoh's genius, the art and instinct for getting very close to the darkest corners of humanity without succumbing to the despair that dwells therein."
Literary Hub, Editor-in-Chief Jonny Diamond’s Favorite Book of 2020
"Abdoh’s superb meditation on art and war exploits and subverts the tropes of popular Western war novels for a thrilling, sometimes comical ride through a horrific series of battles."
Publishers Weekly, One of the Best Books of 2020
"A superb pressure cooker of a novel...Abdoh brilliantly fuses the confusions of combat and modern life to produce an unforgettable novel. This is one of the best works of literature on the war against ISIS to date."
Publishers Weekly, STARRED review, Book of the Week
"Abdoh wants to write about what happens to a person who goes back and forth between war and peace, what happens to art in a society engaged in a 'forever war, and what it means for our souls that humans cannot live without conflict."
Literary Hub, recommended by Bethanne Patrick
One of The Margins’s 100 Essential Books by Iranian Writers
“Salar Abdoh defies all formulaic constructions . . . The result is an unblinking look at the realities of war and the impossibility of ever leaving war behind . . . Out of Mesopotamia provides a wrenching examination of war and of the way humanity can’t ever manage to be done with violent conflict.”
"[A] searing, poetic, and morally authentic account of contemporary conflict. Abdoh eloquently depicts the absurdity of war, employing darkly comic interludes while also showing the devastating brutality...A devastatingly profound catch-22 of modern conflict."
One of Publishers Weekly's Big Indie Books of Fall 2020
"Out of Mesopotamia...draws on Abdoh's experience reporting on the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria in this tale of an Iranian television writer who crosses the border to get a first-hand look at the front lines."
Publishers Weekly, Included in Fall 2020 Adult Announcements: Literary Fiction
“An inherently fascinating read that echoes the devastated and devastating real world conditions of so many war torn populations in the Middle East, Out Of Mesopotamia by Salar Abdoh is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf.”
Midwest Book Review
"In what should well become an essential portrait of the fight against the Islamic State, Salar Abdoh's novel reinvigorates the way we write about war...Nothing less than profound."
Boswell Book Company, staff pick
”Based on firsthand experience, Salar Abdoh has written one of the best war novels I've ever read, though it feels like so much more than that. Brutal, dark, funny, empathetic and wise, it truly captures the human condition in its finest, ugliest and all the in between.”
Fountain Bookstore, staff pick
"Out of Mesopotamia is a brutally realistic look at war and love and fear and everything else that humans do. The writing is impossibly good. The characters aren't characters at allthey seem to have emerged fully formed from the blood-soaked soil of Syria and Iraq. And they rise up to live out a story that is as old as history and yet somehow could only have happened today. I'm stunned by how good this book is."
Sebastian Junger, author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
"What a breath of fresh air it is to read Salar Abdoh's brilliant Out of Mesopotamia. Written with razor-sharp intelligence and wit, individual sentences good enough to jolt you out of your chair, and an incredible depth of knowledge in his subject, the book captures the tragedy, comedy, and sheer absurdity of modern war like nothing else I have read."
Phil Klay, author of Redeployment
"Out of Mesopotamia is an extraordinary novel that captures the ambiguous and often contradictory nature of contemporary conflict as well as anything I've ever read. Herein you will find the story of Saleh, a journalist trying to keep his footing at the intersection of life and death, bitterness and absurdity, and the sacred and the pointless that is the resistance to Islamic State in northern Iraq. His voice is as honest and direct as any you are likely to encounter on the subject of war in the modern world, and I for one will be thinking of him for a long, long time to come."
Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds
"Out of Mesopotamia is the novel every American should be reading next. A novel so ambitious and exciting and impressive that comparisons fall short. The Executioner's Song and A Tomb for Boris Davidovich come to mindthat's the level of brilliance I'm talking about. Salar Abdoh writes page after page of kinetic fiction. To say this book is full of truth is to shortchange it; this is a book full of art."
Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling
"Out of Mesopotamia is haunting and wry and beautiful and heartbreaking, and ultimately, it is a revelation. Abdoh takes a story about war and uses it to dig into larger questions about love, loyalty, friendship, and what it means to liveand diewell. Suffused with irony, yet held together by compassion, it will take hold of you and hang on well past the last page."
Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King
"In Out of Mesopotamia, Salar Abdoh brilliantly captures the surreal metaphysics of war: love and hate, honor and corruption, literature and lies all mingle in the smoke-streaked fog of lost time, punctuated by moments of sudden, spectacular violence. As urgent and necessary as a frontline report, this masterful novel is at the same time a timeless meditation on sacrifice, fraternity, and the impossibility of war literature. Out of Mesopotamia is a somber and glorious triumph, heartbreaking and sublime."
Roy Scranton, author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene
"Out of Mesopotamia subverts the conventions of the Heroic War Journo Memoir to create a novel as brilliant and blackly funny as A Case of Exploding Mangoes."
Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood
"This is a masterful, stylish novel. Through the eye of his disarming, disaffected narrator, Salar Abdoh weaves a story at once wry and aching, beautifully illustrating the paradoxes of war in the field and on the home front. Alternating moments of brutality and comradeship, Abdoh's novel shows war's pointless heroisms, its random accidents, its absurdities, and its ongoing human costs. This is at once a probing and masterful novel of the disaster in Syria and Iraq, and an affectionate yet gimlet-eyed view of masculinity, art, and cultural politics."
Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State
"A man finds himself in a war where nobody really knows what is right or what is wrong. But one thing is certain: if you step into this war, you'd better be at peace with yourself. Abdoh's words can touch everyone because they come from somewhere essential."
Jean-Claude Carrière, Academy Awardwinning author/screenwriter
"In Western literature and journalism, readers rarely learn anything new about the Middle East, instead encountering old and sometimes vile perceptions reinforced by the latest headlines. Salar Abdoh emerges here as the best sort of combat journalist, whose mission through fiction is to reach the farthest recesses of imperialist misadventure, and to report on the ideological contortions, the religious mutations and schisms, and the seemingly endless havoc that they have caused. Through the voice of an Iranian writer documenting the fight against ISIS, Abdoh delivers a sobering and deeply compelling narrative. His work confirms that it is never too complicated to understand the world if we begin by acknowledging the flawed humanity we share with others. This is an alert, probing, and deeply moving novel."
Khaled Mattawa, author of Mare Nostrum
Critical praise for Tehran at Twilight by Salar Abdoh:
"In this swift, hard-boiled novel...shadowy zealots exist everywhere, whether in conference rooms or interrogation rooms ormost oftenin rooms that can serve as both."
New York Times Book Review
"Abdoh paints a gripping portrait of a nation awash in violence and crippled by corruption...Captivating."
"A fascinating glimpse of contemporary Iran through the familiar story of childhood friends whose paths are beginning to diverge irreversibly."