Frankenstein in Baghdad (Ahmed Saadawi)

For all of it epic ambition and scrawling scope, I am a big fan of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley made no small plans with her ghost story, and I respect that. It’s one of those classics that rewards re-reading and I thought this might make a nice pairing in class. Saadawi provides a smart twist on the creation of the creature or monster (depending on how you think of it), but he does not always seem confident about what to do with it. There are side plots here and various narrative techniques. Of course, there’s the omnipresent Americans.

This is a promising book, a Man Booker International Prize Finalist. Saadawi’s someone to watch. I think if he continues to have such intense and slightly strange ideas, but can explore them with more depth and nuance, there will be many great books in his future.

As for teaching it, it’s possible. There are a few explicit moments which don’t necessarily preclude me from using it in the classroom. I just thought they were gratuitous which was disappointing.

Charles Ellenbogen is the author of the teaching memoir, THIS ISN’T THE MOVIES: 25 YEARS IN THE CLASSROOM, and teaches high school English in Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio with Kirsten, his wife, Zoe, their daughter, Ezra, their son, Lincoln, their dog, and Chocolate Scales, their snake

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