The Orange Trees of Baghdad

The Orange Trees of Baghdad

by Leilah Nadir


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When the West invaded Iraq in 2003, Leilah Nadir felt as if she had been torn in two; both the occupier and the occupied coursed through her veins.
Born to an Iraqi father and an English mother, raised in Britain and Canada, she has always yearned to visit her father’s family but has never set foot on Iraqi soil. Now, as the bombs land on Baghdad and more of her relatives flee the country forever, Leilah begins to uncover the story of her lost roots. At the same time, she gets rare first-hand insight into what Iraqis are experiencing through the invasion and its aftermath. Her father is forced to look back as well, after decades of closing his eyes to Iraq’s pain.
The family home still stands intact, full of furniture, photographs and clothes still hanging in closets, all guarded by her great-aunt, who waits for someone to return and reclaim it. While American helicopters fly low overhead and suicide bombers shatter the calm, the date palms still sway in the heat of the day and jasmine continues to scent the Baghdad nights. The garden and its orange trees has changed beyond recognition, but still holds vivid nostalgic memories for the family.
Through her great-aunt and her cousins, Leilah learns what life is like in the embattled land as war becomes occupation and lawlessness takes hold. Leilah’s friend, award-winning photographer Farah Nosh, brings home news of Leilah’s family after her visits to Iraq as well as her own stories and photographs of Iraqis and their tragic stories.
And just as Leilah gives up hope of ever meeting her family, a surprise reunion takes place.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781927018354
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Publication date: 03/01/2014
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Leilah Nadir has a master’s degree in English Literature from Edinburgh University and a joint honours bachelor’s degree in English and history from McGill University. She has worked in the publishing industry in London and Vancouver. Her memoir The Orange Trees of Baghdad won the George Ryga award in 2008 and has been published in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Italy, Turkey and France. Since the invasion of Iraq, she has written and broadcast political commentaries for the CBC, The Globe and Mail and The Georgia Straight. She also writes fiction and has published stories in Descant magazine and articles in Brick magazine and the anthology How They See Us: Meditations on America. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and two children. Visit her website at

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Mother Tongue 15

Chapter 1 The Orange Orchard 27

Chapter 2 The Father Country 33

Chapter 3 The Motherland 63

Chapter 4 "It Is Written" 75

Chapter 5 The Three Graces 89

Chapter 6 Pieces of Civilization 111

Chapter 6 Porthole into Occupied Baghdad 121

Chapter 8 Occupation Limbo 137

Chapter 9 The Christians 147

Chapter 10 A Sugar Depression 155

Chapter 11 Snow in the Desert 165

Chapter 12 The Death of Lina 191

Chapter 13 The Flower of the Pomegranate 203

Chapter 14 Portraits of the Wounded 215

Chapter 15 Min Al'Sima, "From the Heavens" 227

Chapter 16 The Smell of a Car Bomb 241

Chapter 17 New Baghdad in Damascus 251

Chapter 18 Iraq Comes to Me 257

Chapter 19 A Letter from the City of Peace 28l

Chapter 20 Christmas in Baghdad 305

Epilogue 315

Bibliography 333

Acknowledgements 335

Index 339

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