Book Review: Brother or jailer? Kuwaiti author explores tyrannical rule within a family

Updated 23 April 2019
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Book Review: Brother or jailer? Kuwaiti author explores tyrannical rule within a family

CHICAGO: From award-winning Kuwaiti author Bothayna Al-Essa comes “All That I Want to Forget,” a novel of debilitating circumstances, mocked hopes and fading dreams. Fatima loses her parents and all her belongings in a catastrophic moment that changes her life, but nothing can prepare her for what’s to come. Adopted by her half-brother Saqr, Fatima’s life becomes an experiment of sorts, one in which she is not allowed to be herself and one in which her brother takes away her independence so she no longer understands who she is and what life is meant to be.

Al-Essa’s novel is lyrical and poetic, but desperate and her character, Fatima, is defenseless. Fatima’s life is one tragic event after another as she lives under the tyrannical rule of her older brother. Forced to love poetry, French and literature in secret, her life is squeezed into a narrow tunnel of only the things her brother finds acceptable. Too young to be considered Saqr’s sister, he raises her as his daughter and begins to squeeze any hope out of the young woman. Fatima slowly disintegrates as a person and develops anxiety. Fear becomes a part of her daily life.

Al-Essa has a way of making the reader feel as if they themselves are being oppressed. Her words constrict as she writes of enervating moments in a young girl’s life, from disallowing her to play with dolls, to keeping her from hanging photographs, to forcing her to marry at 17. There is a sense of desperation in the woman who is “tired of being me — not allowed to be me and not allowed to be anyone but me.”

Al-Essa captures the tyranny a woman can face under circumstances that are not within her control and when her caregiver is like a jailer. Her words are heavy as she highlights the moments that change life abruptly. “All That I Want to Forget” was published by Arab Scientific Publishers Inc. in 2013. It was then translated from Arabic into English by Michele Henjum and published by Hoopoe Press in December 2018.


Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

Updated 20 July 2019
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Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

  • The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh
  • This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory”

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s military said Saturday its troops in partnership with security agencies and paramilitary forces launched the second phase of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Daesh group from north of Baghdad and surrounding areas.
This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks earlier and targeted the area along the border with Syria. The military said the new target area is north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.
Although Iraq declared victory against Daesh in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the country.
The military said Iraqi troops, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, the federal police and others are taking part in the operation supported by the Iraqis and the U.S-led international coalition.
On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited the operation room alongside the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Earlier this month, the Iraqi government moved to place the Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces. The move was believed to be an attempt to curb the powerful militias, particularly amid rising tension between Iran and the US, the power brokers in Iraq.
The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh and are a significant political force, with government ministers and 48 seats in the 329-member parliament.