Out of Mesopotamia

Out of Mesopotamia

Informed by firsthand experience on the battlefronts of Iraq and Syria, Abdoh captures the horror, confusion, and absurdity of combat from a seldom-glimpsed perspective that expands our understanding of the war novel.

Saleh, the narrator of Out of Mesopotamia, is a middle-aged Iranian journalist who moonlights as a writer for one of Iran’s most popular TV shows but cannot keep himself away from the front lines in neighboring Iraq and Syria. There, the fight against the Islamic State is a proxy war, an existential battle, a declaration of faith, and, for some, a passing weekend affair.

After weeks spent dodging RPGs, witnessing acts of savagery and stupidity, Saleh returns to civilian life in Tehran but finds it to be an unbearably dislocating experience. Pursued by his official handler from state security, opportunistic colleagues, and the woman who broke his heart, Saleh has reason to again flee from everyday life. Surrounded by men whose willingness to achieve martyrdom both fascinates and appalls him, Saleh struggles to make sense of himself and the turmoil in his midst.

An unprecedented glimpse into “endless war” from a Middle Eastern perspective, Out of Mesopotamia follows in the tradition of the Western canon of martial writers--from Hemingway and Orwell to Tim O’Brien and Philip Caputo--but then subverts and expands upon the genre before completely blowing it apart. Drawing from his firsthand experience of being embedded with Shia militias on the ground in Iraq and Syria, Abdoh gives agency to the voiceless while offering a meditation on war that is moving, humane, darkly funny, and resonantly true.

Title:Out of Mesopotamia
Edition Language:English
ISBN:null
Format Type:

    Out of Mesopotamia Reviews

  • Tonstant Weader

    Out of Mesopotamia is one of those rare books that I know I will read again and again. The prose is beautiful, the emotions raw and authentic in their confusion and contradiction. It is everything a t...

  • Bandit

    The library lately has been all too eager to accommodate international reading, albeit conditionally, certain locations more than others. This one was geopolitically unmissable, a firsthand experience...

  • Troy Hill

    A thrilling read with surprising depth told through the impaired but insightful eyes of an eternal outsider, Out of Mesopotamia is an illuminating and gripping war novel with a reality built on journa...

  • Gary

    An oddly appealing little book. Although it is purportedly the tale of an Iranian journalist embedded with a unit fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, it is really a comic novel about contemporary life in...

  • Sanjida

    This short novel borrows its style from the existentialist character meanderings of a Camus, or Faulkner (or Proust?). But it's all it's own thing, an instant classic about the recent conflicts agains...

  • Liza

    Got to page 205 before acknowledging to myself that I just didn’t care about this book. ...

  • Aryn

    The unrelenting war in the Middle East, spurred by the United States’ War on Terror, is rapidly approaching the two decade mark. Out of Mesopotamia takes readers to Iran and the war zones of Iraq an...

  • Christina_lambert

    While I’m sure some would appreciate the opportunity to understand both the cultural of war and more specifically of martyrdom among Arab men...I found this book hard to read. It read like it was wr...

  • litost

    A black comedy written by an Iranian author. I felt at a disadvantage as I did not have the necessary context. I did not know about the Iranian Defenders of Holy Places who fought to protect Shia shri...

  • Diane

    Really fascinating look at art, war and the melding of both ...