The Last Of The Angels (Modern Arabic Literature (Hardcover))

3.81 avg rating
( 85 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9789774160592: The Last Of The Angels (Modern Arabic Literature (Hardcover))
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

Set in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk during the 1950s, The Last of the Angels tells the slyly humorous tale of three strikingly different people in one small neighborhood. During a labor strike against the British-run Iraq Petroleum Company, Hameed Nylon becomes a labor organizer and later a revolutionary, like his hero, Mao Tse-Tung. His brother-in-law, the sheep butcher Khidir Musa, travels to the Soviet Union to find his long-lost brothers, and returns home to great acclaim (and personal fortune) in an airship. Meanwhile, a young boy named Burhan Abdullah discovers an old chest in the attic of his family’s house that lets him talk to angels. By turns satiric, picaresque, and apocalyptic, The Last of the Angels paints a loving, panoramic, and elegiac portrait of Kirkuk in the final years of Iraq’s monarchy. But as the grim reality of modern Iraqi history catches up with the novel’s events, we come to learn the depth and complexity of Hameed Nylon, Khidir Musa, and Burhan Abdullah, and al-Azzawi’s comic novel becomes a moving tale of growing up in a dangerous world.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

FADHIL AL-AZZAWI was born in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 1940. He holds a Ph.D. in cultural journalism from the University of Leipzig and is the author of sev-eral novels and collections of poetry. In Iraq, he was a member of the “Kirkuk Group” of poets of the 1960s generation. He has lived in Germany since 1977. WILLIAM M. HUTCHINS is the principal translator of Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy (AUC Press, 1989-92), and has most recently translated Ibrahim al-Mazini’s Ten Again and other stories (AUC Press, 2006). He was awarded the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of A Land without Jasmine by Wajdi al-Ahdal.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

One

Hameed, who had yet to learn the nickname by which he would be known for the rest of his life, entered the house, which emitted a fresh country scent. With his foot, as usual, he shoved open the heavy door, which was made of walnut and decorated with large, broad-headed nails. Only at night was it closed by a bolt with protruding teeth. Verdigris had spread across this till its edges looked bright green. He climbed a few steps, making his way to the two small rooms over the entryway that led to the courtyard.

It was the first time Hameed had returned from his job at the oil company so early. It was barely eleven, and this fact surprised his wife Fatima, who was not expecting him till afternoon. He interrupted her innocent laughter as she stood on the steps discussing her nightly pleasures over a low masonry wall with a neighbor next door. Her happiness actually was tinged with bitter anxiety, since she had been married for more than a year without conceiving. She had sought out most of the better-known and even less well-known imams in the city for charms against barrenness to neutralize the magic that the many women envying her had clearly concocted to her detriment. Although she had never said so openly, her suspicions, from the beginning, had focused on Nazira -- her husband's sister -- and on Nazira's mother, Hidaya, a plump old woman who made no secret of her collaboration with the devil, for her house was always cluttered with herbs and dried flowers, ground bones, and assorted chemical substances purchased from Jewish druggists in al-Qaysariya, at the entrance to the old souk.

Among the imams Fatima consulted was a blind man who charged her a dirham to write a charm. He told her, "This amulet will set on fire any devil that dares approach you." As an additional precaution, however, she consulted another Turkmen imam, who lived in a nameless alley branching off from the Chay neighborhood. A month or two later, since her belly had not swollen up yet, her neighbor advised her to tour the tombs of the dead imams, since the living ones were not useful anymore and only wrote charms for money. Thus Fatima, enveloped in her black wrap, headed to Imam Ahmad, whose tomb lay in the center of the main thoroughfare linking al-Musalla district with the old souk. She wept and pleaded, deliberately prolonging the time she spent there so the imam would not ignore her request. A passing car almost ran into her, since in her spiritual rapture -- tears streaming from her eyes -- she had forgotten she was sitting in the middle of the street. After that she visited the tomb in al-Musalla cemetery of a Kurdish imam said to have been able to converse with birds, which understood and obeyed him. A month later, when no change had occurred in her, even though she made her husband sleep with her more than once a night, her visiting mother said, "This time you're going to head for the tomb of a Jewish saint, for no one is on better terms with the devil than Jews; evil is only negated by evil." The next morning, however, when she related that to her neighbor, the woman advised her to go to the citadel and ask a Christian household there for a hog's tooth. She said they put those, normally, in water jugs. She should slip it under her husband's pillow, since Satan fears nothing more than hogs' teeth. Perhaps because of all of this advice she was receiving from here and there, and also, possibly because she was disillusioned with saints whose blessed powers had failed, she decided to call off, at least temporarily, these unsuccessful attempts while increasing the number of times she slept with her husband, since she knew, perhaps with good reason, that -- more than any other location -- bed was where the issue would be settled, if only because this was the resting place for the saints closest to God.

Even so, Fatima would not have paid much attention to this matter had it not been for her mother's persistent entreaties and the insinuating comments of the old woman Hidaya and her daughter Nazira, who deliberately spoke in riddles, saying, for example, "The cow that doesn't give birth is slaughtered." On the whole she was content with her nightly trysts with her husband, who had never given a thought, not even once, to having children, since love for women eclipsed all other loves in his life. He especially wished to preserve for as long as possible his sense of being a young man little burdened with responsibilities, so that he could leave in the morning for his job at the oil company and not return home till he felt like it. He occasionally returned in the afternoon but frequently stayed out until ten or eleven p.m. without upsetting Fatima, who had no way of discovering anything about his work except from the stories he told her. She knew he drove a private car belonging to an English engineer and his wife, conveying them from one place to another and waiting for them. She grasped that this type of work might force him to work late more often than not. He was occasionally obliged to travel to other cities and areas, accompanying his boss. Then he would return home bringing -- especially during Christian holidays -- chocolates from London or locally produced pieces of sugared coconut, which she had not tasted before. The moment she saw her husband enter, she raced to him since this was the first time he had returned so early, a fact that made her feel uncomfortable and anxious. She fought to control her emotions and to keep herself from asking why he was early. He, however, spoke first, saying with a smile, "I want to lie down a little." Only then did she find the courage to ask anxiously, "I hope you don't feel ill?" As he climbed toward their two rooms over the house's entryway, he replied, "No, not at all. I'm just tired." This answer satisfied her enough that she said, "Fine. I'll start cooking right away so we can have lunch together." She went off to prepare the food, feeling on the whole contented and delighted that her husband was home with her. Even if something were the matter, he would certainly tell her, she was sure of that.

Her husband kept uncharacteristically silent this time, however. In fact, he did not leave his bed to go to the coffeehouse or to visit with his friends, not even that afternoon. Neither did he go out to chat with the neighborhood youth, who met each evening in front of a shop located near the community's mosque. Even worse than that, he did not leave home for work the next day. Only then did Fatima realize that something was wrong, something he was hiding from her and did not care to divulge. It had to be something serious. Her fears led her to beg him to tell her the truth, but he merely told her he had taken a few days' holiday. She felt somewhat relieved but not entirely reassured, for he might be trying to deceive her, thinking that he should not alarm or upset her.

She knew that when he was in a good humor he would tell her one story after another about Mr. McNeely; his flirtatious wife, Helen; and the other Englishmen who worked in the Baba Gurgur region for the Iraq Petroleum Company in Kirkuk. She knew that every Englishman was called "Boss" and that the company belonged to them. Fatima and Hameed would laugh a lot when he told her how Englishwomen were not at all embarrassed about showing their naked bodies to employees and how they wore undershirts and shorts in the presence of their cuckolded husbands, who bragged about their wives to one another. In fact, he had discovered that his boss's wife had more than one English lover. He was equally well versed in his boss's affair with the daughter of Khamu, an Assyrian Christian, who enjoyed the rank of a "first-class" employee with the firm. That was not all; her father encouraged the girl to continue this relationship with the man. As for the boss and his wife, they did not attempt to conceal their affairs from him, leaving the impression that these were extremely natural. In fact, his boss's beautiful, bronzed wife would leave the home of one of her lovers and climb into the waiting automobile as if returning from prayers. Once, when they were on the lakeshore in al-Habaniya, Helen removed every stitch of clothing. When she noticed that Hameed was staring wildly and lustfully at her, she was surprised and winked at him, smiling as she sank into the water. Fatima had frequently teased him, laughing, "What more do you want? Many men would pay good money to have such enjoyable work."

Hameed, however, did not actually find in his work the kind of satisfaction his wife imagined, for he felt humiliated most of the time as he sat behind the steering wheel, waiting for Helen to leave an assignation. They occasionally invited him inside and served him lemonade in the servants' quarters while he listened to his mistress's moans from a bed in another room where she lay with the lover she was visiting. That would drive him crazy, agitating him, although he did not dare protest or refuse the invitation. He assumed it not unlikely that she would fancy him someday and invite him to sleep with her, but that day never came. After the incident in which Mrs. Helen McNeely appeared naked at al-Habaniya and after her conspiratorial wink, he spent more than a month feeling uncertain about his standing with her, wanting her but lacking the audacity to cross the line separating them. The image of her standing naked before him never left his head, since he often thought of her while he slept with his wife. That did not, in his opinion, constitute any diminution of his love for his wife, everything considered, for Mrs. Helen McNeely was no better than a whore. He, as a man, had a right to seize this opportunity. He was sure he would show her in bed that he was superior to all her other lovers. He would thus avenge himself and erase the humiliation he felt whenever she climbed into the car to head for one of them.

Hameed never returned to work and there must have been some secret reason, which would eventually surface, even though he attempted to postpone this moment, day by day. People in the Chuqor neighborhood learned fr...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy New View Book
List Price: US$ 22.95
US$ 14.49

Convert currency

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.

Destination, rates & speeds

Add to Basket

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781416567455: The Last of the Angels: A Modern Iraqi Novel

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1416567453 ISBN 13:  9781416567455
Publisher: Free Press, 2008
Softcover

9789774166495: The Last of the Angels: A Modern Iraqi Novel

The Am..., 2014
Softcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Fadil al-Azzawi
Published by The American University in Cairo Press, Egypt (2007)
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The American University in Cairo Press, Egypt, 2007. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Set in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk during the 1950s, The Last of the Angels tells the slyly humorous tale of three strikingly different people in one small neighborhood: the revolutionary Hameed Nylon, the butcher Khidir Musa, and a young boy named Burhan Abdullah who discovers an old chest that lets him talk to angels. By turns satiric, picaresque, and apocalyptic, the novel paints a loving and elegiac portrait of Kirkuk in the final years of Iraq s monarchy - a moving tale of growing up in a dangerous world. Seller Inventory # AAZ9789774160592

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 14.49
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Fadil al-Azzawi
Published by The American University in Cairo Press, Egypt (2007)
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Book Depository International
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The American University in Cairo Press, Egypt, 2007. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Set in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk during the 1950s, The Last of the Angels tells the slyly humorous tale of three strikingly different people in one small neighborhood: the revolutionary Hameed Nylon, the butcher Khidir Musa, and a young boy named Burhan Abdullah who discovers an old chest that lets him talk to angels. By turns satiric, picaresque, and apocalyptic, the novel paints a loving and elegiac portrait of Kirkuk in the final years of Iraq s monarchy - a moving tale of growing up in a dangerous world. Seller Inventory # AAZ9789774160592

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 14.66
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Fadhil al Azzawi
Published by The American University in Cairo Press (2007)
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Rating
[?]

Book Description The American University in Cairo Press, 2007. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # GH9789774160592

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 12.43
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.15
From Germany to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

Fadhil al-Azzawi
Published by American University in Cairo Pre (2007)
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Books From California
(Simi Valley, CA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description American University in Cairo Pre, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # mon0001305867

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 12.59
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

5.

Azzawi, Fadhil al
Published by The American University in Cairo (2007)
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Monster Bookshop
(Fleckney, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The American University in Cairo, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Seller Inventory # mon0001662618

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 11.62
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 5.08
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

6.

Fadil al-Azzawi, William Hutchins
Published by The American University in Cairo Press
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The American University in Cairo Press. Hardback. Condition: new. BRAND NEW, The Last of the Angels: A Modern Arabic Novel, Fadil al-Azzawi, William Hutchins, Set in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk during the 1950s, "The Last of the Angels" tells the slyly humorous tale of three strikingly different people in one small neighborhood: the revolutionary Hameed Nylon, the butcher Khidir Musa, and a young boy named Burhan Abdullah who discovers an old chest that lets him talk to angels. By turns satiric, picaresque, and apocalyptic, the novel paints a loving and elegiac portrait of Kirkuk in the final years of Iraq's monarchy - a moving tale of growing up in a dangerous world. Seller Inventory # B9789774160592

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.93
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 8.85
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

7.

Fadhil al-Azzawi
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST9774160592. Seller Inventory # ST9774160592

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 17.53
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

8.

Fadhil al Azzawi
Published by The American University in Cairo Press (2007)
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ria Christie Collections
(Uxbridge, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The American University in Cairo Press, 2007. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # ria9789774160592_rkm

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 13.98
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.94
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

9.

Fadhil al-Azzawi, William M. Hutchins (translator)
Published by The American University in Cairo Press 2007-03-15, Cairo (2007)
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
Blackwell's
(Oxford, OX, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The American University in Cairo Press 2007-03-15, Cairo, 2007. hardback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # 9789774160592

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 12.36
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 7.65
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

10.

Fadil al-Azzawi
Published by The American University in Cairo Press (2007)
ISBN 10: 9774160592 ISBN 13: 9789774160592
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Books2Anywhere
(Fairford, GLOS, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The American University in Cairo Press, 2007. HRD. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # GB-9789774160592

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.61
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 11.48
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book