The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon

The Corpse Washer

bySinan Antoon

Paperback | July 29, 2014

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Acclaimed and celebrated in the Arab world for its vivid portrait of Iraq, this heartbreaking novel confronts the war-torn nation’s horrifying recent history


Young Jawad, born to a traditional Shi'ite family of corpse washers and shrouders in Baghdad, decides to abandon the family tradition, choosing instead to become a sculptor, to celebrate life rather than tend to death. He enters Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts in the late 1980s, in defiance of his father’s wishes and determined to forge his own path. But the circumstances of history dictate otherwise. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the economic sanctions of the 1990s destroy the socioeconomic fabric of society. The 2003 invasion and military occupation unleash sectarian violence. Corpses pile up, and Jawad returns to the inevitable washing and shrouding. Trained as an artist to shape materials to represent life aesthetically, he now must contemplate how death shapes daily life and the bodies of Baghdad’s inhabitants.

Through the struggles of a single desperate family, Sinan Antoon’s novel shows us the heart of Iraq’s complex and violent recent history. Descending into the underworld where the borders between life and death are blurred and where there is no refuge from unending nightmares, Antoon limns a world of great sorrows, a world where the winds wail.

About The Author

Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist, and translator. He is associate professor at the Gallatin School, New York University, and cofounder and coeditor of the cultural page of Jadaliyya. The Corpse Washer is his second novel. He lives in New York City.
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Details & Specs

Title:The Corpse WasherFormat:PaperbackDimensions:200 pages, 7.5 × 4.81 × 0.68 inPublished:July 29, 2014Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300205643

ISBN - 13:9780300205640

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Winner of the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.