A young Iraqi woman watches her family life collapse amid the country's political turmoil, turning to the seven world-famous paintings hanging in her family's Baghdad villa to make sense of the chaos around her. A work of translated fiction written by an award-winning Iraqi writer and journalist.
The novel is set in Baghdad following the 2003 American invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein and unleashed chaos. At the center of the narrative is a young woman, Ghosnelban, who belongs to what would have been an aristocratic family under the former Iraqi monarchy and sees herself and her family as guardians of an aristocratic code of noble values and traditions. She witnesses her world and family life collapsing as the violence around her intensifies.
The story encompasses three generations of the same family, and shows the effects of successive coups and wars on Iraqi society by focusing on the uprooting of a well-establish family that has deep roots in Iraq.
Ghosnelban interprets the events unfolding around her through detailed descriptive analysis of seven paintings hanging on the walls of a formal reception room in the family's palatial villa. The family's fate embodies the wider ruination affecting the country at large.
Zuheir El-Hetti is an award-winning Iraqi writer and journalist, born in 1957 and currently living in Germany. He has published four novels, including My Distant Day (2002), American Dust (2009), Days of Dust (2016), and Ember's Den (2020). He is also the author of an academic study: The Image of the Iraqi in the Arabic Novel (2006).