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Poppies of Iraq

by Brigitte Findakly, Lewis Trondheim (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1067200,181 (3.61)9
"Poppies of Iraq is Brigitte Findakly's nuanced tender chronicle of her relationship with her homeland Iraq, co-written and drawn by her husband, the acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim. In spare and elegant detail, they share memories of her middle class childhood touching on cultural practices, the education system, Saddam Hussein's state control, and her family's history as Orthodox Christians in the Arab world. Poppies of Iraq is intimate and wide-ranging; the story of how one can become separated from one's homeland and still feel intimately connected yet ultimately estranged. Signs of an oppressive regime permeate a seemingly normal life: magazines arrive edited by customs; the color red is banned after the execution of General Kassim; Baathist militiamen are publicly hanged and school kids are bussed past them to bear witness. As conditions in Mosul worsen over her childhood, Brigitte's father is always hopeful that life in Iraq will return to being secular and prosperous. The family eventually feels compelled to move to Paris, however, where Brigitte finds herself not quite belonging to either culture. Trondheim brings to life Findakly's memories to create a poignant family portrait that covers loss, tragedy, love, and the loneliness of exile."--… (more)
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» See also 9 mentions

English (5)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 5 of 5
I like this in theory, but in the classic creative writing idiom of "show, don't tell," it mostly felt like a lot of telling and little showing. Each episode seemed like it could contain a book in itself. I would revisit Findakly if other work offered more in depth insights. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
A graphic novel memoir of growing up in Iraq during the last twenty years. Nothing amazing, but very informational. The drawings though, are superb. Simple but detailed enough for easy understanding. ( )
  lispylibrarian | Dec 11, 2019 |
I found this book a little confusing at first because it jumps around a lot, but you also have to remember that this is how we have memories. If you read a memoir that is in chronological order, it's because the author took a bunch of messed up memories and constructed them that way. Taken together, the vignettes do add up to a fascinating portrait of life in Iraq. ( )
  TheLoisLevel | Oct 1, 2019 |
Despite many good vignettes and anecdotes, this autobiography is too random and unstructured for me, skipping around through the upbringing of the co-author in Iraq and France. The intermittent inclusion of real family photos drove home the impression I had of sitting on the sofa in a stranger's house as she flips through pages of a family scrapbook telling occasionally humorous stories about a bunch of people I don't really know. While it isn't painful, I'm mostly going to nod politely until I can find an opportunity to leave. ( )
  villemezbrown | Jul 28, 2018 |
This 2017 book written by Brigitte Findakly and illustrated by her husband Lewis Trondheim is a memoir of Findakly's life growing up in Iraq. Findakly had a better than average life in Iraq as her father was a dentist and they could afford private schools and vacations in France where her mother emigrated to Iraq from. The family was unique because they were Orthodox Christians in a Muslim country.

With her father being asked to pay excessive taxes that he could not afford to pay, he decided to leave Iraq for France. His cover story for the government whom he worked for was that he needed training on how to do dental implants. The training was approved and the family left with no intention of returning until things improved in Iraq. I believe the author was about 18 years old at this time. However, this was 1979. The Iran-Iraq War followed from 1980-1989, the Gulf War in 1990 and the second Gulf War in 2003. Her father never expected his exile to be that long.

The family was not political unless they had to be and when her father could no longer support Saddam Hussein's government, he willingly gave up his government pension and all hope of ever returning to Iraq. The author, however, made several trips back over the years to visit relatives and saw their homes and possessions and dreams becoming more and more shattered. Eventually they all left by 2016, their homeland no longer recognizable.

While the family did not suffer much religious prejudice while the author lived there, as Saddam Hussein's government took hold her cousins suffered persecution and developed Islamapobia. It seems to me that the author's mother kept her indoors at certain times so perhaps there was some prejudice happening to them that the mother shielded her from.

Poppies in Iraq is an informative graphic memoir on life in Iraq from 1950 to the present time. The title of the book comes from an archeological site in Nimrod where the author used to play as a child. Poppies were prevalent there. ( )
  Violette62 | Mar 14, 2018 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brigitte Findaklyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Trondheim, LewisIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Dascher, HelgeTranslator.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Poppies of Iraq is Brigitte Findakly's nuanced tender chronicle of her relationship with her homeland Iraq, co-written and drawn by her husband, the acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim. In spare and elegant detail, they share memories of her middle class childhood touching on cultural practices, the education system, Saddam Hussein's state control, and her family's history as Orthodox Christians in the Arab world. Poppies of Iraq is intimate and wide-ranging; the story of how one can become separated from one's homeland and still feel intimately connected yet ultimately estranged. Signs of an oppressive regime permeate a seemingly normal life: magazines arrive edited by customs; the color red is banned after the execution of General Kassim; Baathist militiamen are publicly hanged and school kids are bussed past them to bear witness. As conditions in Mosul worsen over her childhood, Brigitte's father is always hopeful that life in Iraq will return to being secular and prosperous. The family eventually feels compelled to move to Paris, however, where Brigitte finds herself not quite belonging to either culture. Trondheim brings to life Findakly's memories to create a poignant family portrait that covers loss, tragedy, love, and the loneliness of exile."--

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