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Farewell, Baghdad

Eli Amir
In this novel, Eli Amir skilfully unfolds the story of Iraqi Jewry on the eve of its immigration to Israel in 1950, two years after the establishment of the state. The events are conveyed through the eyes of 17-year-old Kabi Amari whose father, Salman, a Zionist, dreams of emigrating to Israel and growing rice there, like his grandfather. The novel is also the story of the other Amari family members and their neighbors in Baghdad`s Jewish quarter. Kabi`s Uncle Hizkel, a journalist and member of the Zionist underground, is arrested and locked up in Baghdad`s central jail together with other Zionist activists. Communists are also targets of the regime, and one family member, Salim Effendi, a high school vice-principal, believes the Jews will be safe only when the communists take power. Salim, an educated man who looks like Clark Gable, dreams of a progressive Iraq in which Jews and Muslims will live as equals. He falls in love with a famous belly dancer, but as a Jew he stands no chance of winning her heart. In the meantime he has an affair with an English teacher, Miss Sylvia, a liberated young Londoner who has fallen in love with the magic of the Orient. And there are the Jews who do not dream of change and revolution, but simply want to continue their lives as before. One of them is Salman`s neighbor, Abu Anwar, who raises pigeons. His beautiful daughter Amira, an outstanding student, runs away from home and secretly emigrates to Israel.
Persecution is rife, opponents of the regime are hanged in the city square, and execution awaits Hizkel too. Posing as a tea vendor, Kabi visits him in jail, while Rashel, Hizkel’s wife, tries to obtain his freedom through a Muslim lawyer who later becomes her lover. When the government allows the Jews to leave the country, Hizkel and Rashel stay behind. Salman and his family join the thousands of Jews leaving Iraq. They dream of a house and garden in Israel, but when they arrive they land on the cruel ground of reality. Instead of a house they are given a tent, and the dream of growing rice is also quickly shattered. They know they must start everything from scratch.



Amir Farewell, Baghdad
Title Farewell, Baghdad
Author’s Last Name Amir
Author's First Name Eli
Language(s) English, German
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 1992
Publisher 2 (Hebrew) 2014
No. Pages 454 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Mafriach Ha-Yonim
Representation Represented by ITHL

Translations

German: Munich, Europa, 1998
English (The Dove Flyer): London, Halban, 2010
 
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