AVAILABLE NOW: Baghdad Stories: An Iraqi-American Memoir by Nadia Al Sultani
A memoir In the form of a series of journeys, beginning in 2001 and ending in 2014, in which the author discovers and rediscovers herself and her birthplace at dramatic intervals for both. Beginning in the wake of 9/11 – Nadia flies ‘home’ with her mother to find life difficult under Saddam’s Iraq dictatorship and US sanctions. Her fate seems to follow like a river the charged destiny of her native land. Her next journey in 2002, she would stay in a second home her mother has been preparing for over 20 years- Her mother must always have a house in Baghdad and it is to this house, secured in the panic of departure a quarter century before, that Nadia arrives and stays. Throughout these early visits, she experienced the warmth of encompassing family love and a culture clash between what her life would of been and what it is.
Returning in 2006, Nadia is on a new mission- Saddam is dead, and the country has been damaged and almost destroyed by the Iran/Iraq and Gulf wars. She arrives this time, in her official professional capacity as a high ranking consultant for The United States Agency for International Development, USAID helping to restore Iraq’s economy and infrastructure. Her next several journeys take on the rhythm of a professional commute as she lives and works in the Green Zone on and off through 2009. Working in a bunker and living an intense life on the USAID Compound, Nadia falls in love with a former Navy SEAL, who is employed in clandestine security missions.
Her final, or at least most recent visit in 2014 is the most highly charged: Nadia must return to Baghdad despite rising terrorism and immediate threat. Her reasons are deep and manifold. Her own personal life is in chaos, and she longs for the comfort of her Khalas, the only women in the world, who collectively can help heal her grief over the death of her mother and her shattering marriage. Nadia’s mother has left her the special Baghdad house, the house of return- now occupied by squatters, and she must reclaim it. She comes ‘home’ to stay with her relatives, receive their love and comfort. But the country, while faring better economically, is terrorized and she discovers that her relatives are living under a version of voluntary house arrest. Nadia tries to fulfill her missions as the impending terrorist takeover looms.