The Iraqi Novelist Ahmad Saadawi was first short listed and then won the International Prize for Arab Fiction for his very interesting and original take on the Frankenstein Monster. His novel Frankenstein fi Baghdad (Frankenstein in Baghdad) is a new take on the story of Frankenstein. The story is centered around Hadi Al-Attag who is roaming around the streets of Baghdad in 2005 where the city is war-torn and is in the midst of the civil war. Hadi is looking for body parts so that he can stitch them together to create the eponymous animated being. When the Frankenstein’s monster does comes to life he goes on to avenge the death of each person that he is constituent of. Interestingly the monster in the novel is known as the one who does not have a name. Here is what Ahmad Saadawi has to say about the
According to the first reading, since it is made up of parts taken from Iraqis of different races, sects and ethnicities, the what’s-its-name represents the complete Iraqi individual. In other words, the what’s-its-name is a rare example of the melting pot of identities. Iraq has suffered from this chronic problem ever since it was established early in the 20th century. The issue of Iraqi national identity violently exploded after the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Another way of reading it is that the monster represents the saviour, given its desire to take revenge on behalf of all victims. Bringing justice to the increasing number of victims in Iraq today means salvation for everyone. Here, we sense a reflection of the metaphysical vision of the concept of salvation being achieved at the hands of a single person. The novel implicitly questions this concept of salvation. Such a concept has often led to the formation of political dictatorships in Arab and Middle Eastern countries. Unfortunately, dictatorship still exists in Iraq and has not ended with the end of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime.
A third reading views the monster as the epitome of mass destruction. In other words, the what’s-its-name becomes a dramatic representation of destruction that has been growing with a sort of a snowball effect.