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Marshlands: A Novel by Matthew Olshan
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Marshlands: A Novel

by Matthew Olshan

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A wonderful novel that once again introduces me to something I didn't know. I had never heard about the marshlands of Iraq or to the people of the marshes and their customs.

This is written in matter of fact, unsentimental prose. It offers amazing details in a detached, unsentimental almost detached manner, no matter the horrible things that are being done. It introduces the reader to a young physician named Gus and shows us how he became involved with the people of the marsh, a people he grows to admire to his own detriment. It is told in three parts, moving backwards. How Gus ends up where he does is told in these different segments since the reader first meets Gus as an older man, just released from many years in prison.

I have included a link to pictures of the people who lived in the marshlands. I looked up the history and as the book shows these people have now been displaced, the marshes drained which is also part of this novel. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=marsh+people+of+iraq&qpvt=marsh+people+o...

A fantastic story about a way of life now gone and a young idealistic doctor who pays a high price. I loved it. ( )
  Beamis12 | Mar 5, 2014 |
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Early on, he kept a journal, but there was nowhere to hide the paper scraps.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374199396, Hardcover)

“A first novel of considerable maturity: powerful, original, cunningly constructed, and timely.” —Julian Barnes, author of The Sense of an Ending

After years alone in a cell, an aging prisoner is released without explanation, expelled into a great city now utterly unfamiliar to him. Broken by years of brutality at the hands of the prison guards, he scrounges for scraps, sleeping wild, until a museum curator rescues him from an assault. The museum has just opened its most controversial exhibit: a perfect replica of the marshes, an expansive wilderness still wracked by conflict. There the man had spent years as a doctor among the hated and feared marshmen, who have been colonized but never conquered.
     Then Marshlands reveals one of its many surprises: it is written in reverse. The novel leaps backward once, twice, returning to the marshes and unraveling time to reveal the doctor’s ambiguous relationship to the austerely beautiful land and its people. As the pieces of his past come together, a great crime and its consequences begin to take shape. The true nature of the crime and who committed it will be saved for the breathtaking ending—or, rather, for the beginning.
     In the tradition of Wilfred Thesiger’s The Marsh Arabs and J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Marshlands explores a culture virtually snuffed out under Saddam Hussein, and how we cement our identities by pointing at someone to call “other.” Elegant, brief, and searing, Matthew Olshan’s Marshlands shivers with the life of a fragile, lost world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:27 -0400)

A novel written in reverse relates the story of an aging prisoner who is released only to be rescued from an assault by a curator, who works at a museum exhibiting "the marshes," a conflict-torn wilderness where the former prisoner committed his crime.… (more)

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