Arabic Literature
English edition  
Apr  2007
288 pp.
Hardbound
15X23 cm
$22.95
LE100
ISBN 978 977 416 059 2
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The Last of the Angels

Fadhil al-Azzawi
Translated by William M. Hutchins

A magical, comic, and ultimately profound story of old Kirkuk

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.
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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).

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“The Last of the Angels is a life experience. . . . The novel’s language is an unbroken flow that seduces you right up to the final page of this magnificent tale. And in telling the story, its details sparkle with every description, every sentence, and every page.”—al-Zaman (London), 2003

“André Malraux once said that there are books that belong to the common heritage of humanity. . . . Fadhil al-Azzawi’s The Last of the Angels belongs in that category.”—al-Muda (Damascus)

“The epic achievement of Fadhil al-Azzawi in his novel The Last of the Angels puts the Iraqi and Arabic novel in a world-class category.”—al-Thaqafa al-‘arabiya (Tripoli)

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