A year after the invasion of Iraq the narrator is contacted by an American in Baghdad. What can the man be up to in the city’s most dangerous neighbourhood? Najem Wali's novel addresses the question of how to survive in times of war without being implicated in guilt.
Daniel Brooks, a former US army lieutenant who was involved in the killing of countless defenceless Iraqi soldiers during the first Gulf War, wants to give the narrator a notebook he’s found in the desert. It contains entries written by his poet friend Salman, featuring the hopes and dreams of soldiers from his unit. Twelve years later, the Iraqis are coerced to war again. Will Brooks be able to achieve redemption by saving the names of the victims from oblivion? His mission is a gamble, and when Brooks is kidnapped, the narrator, suspected of being a traitor, must decide whether to save himself or the American.
Moving between Baghdad, Riyadh and Fort Meade, Najem Wali’s major new novel is about friendship, betrayal and guilt. It shows how easily history can repeat itself – and how literature can help prevent it.