L’Express: Antoon’s The pomegranate alone a “superb portrait” and a “beautiful narrative”
Marianne Payot, for L’Express
Published on March 5, 2017
Sinan Antoon brushes off the superb portrait of a man carried away by the maelstrom of the Middle East and raises the veil over Baghdad.
It is the story of a broken destiny, that of a young man who wanted to become a sculptor and who ends up washing the dead. Like his father and all his ancestors before him. A craft that knows no respite in contemporary worn torn Iraq.
Jawad’s elder brother dies on the front in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq conflict, and his father’s heart failts shortly after the fall of Baghdad at the hands of US forces in 2003. The student of the Academy of fine arts, in love with the beautiful Rim, had to resolve to wash corpses, more and more numerous in the chaos of a Baghdad shaken by the fights between Shiites and Sunnis. With his dreams of beauty gone, Jawad’s nights are invaded by violent nightmares.
Baghdad, where life and death are only one
Nothing gloomy, however, in this beautiful narrative carried by the delicate style of the Iraqi Sinan Antoon, who exiles in the United States in 1991, at the age of 24, to escape the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and the rigors of the embargo. Poet, novelist, translator (notably of Mahmoud Darwich), a professor at New York University, the author paints the superb portrait of a man of good carried away by the maelstrom of the Middle East, and raises the veil over Baghdad. Life and death are only one.