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My Father's Rifle: A Childhood in Kurdistan

My Father's Rifle: A Childhood in Kurdistan
Author: Hiner Saleem
ISBN 13: 9780312424756
ISBN 10: 312424752
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: 2006-01-24
Format: Paperback
Pages: 112
List Price: $18.00

This beautiful, spare, autobiographical narrative tells of the life of a Kurd named Azad as he grows to manhood in Iraq during the 1960s and 1970s. Azad is born into a vibrant village culture that hopes for a free Kurdish future. He loves his mother's orchard, his cousin's stunt pigeons, his father's old Czech rifle, his brother who is fighting in the mountains. But before he is even of school age, Azad has seen friends and neighbors assassinated, and his own family driven to starvation.

After being forced into a refugee camp in Iran for years, his family realizes, on their return, that the Baathist regime is destroying the autonomy it had promised their people. My Father's Rifle ends with Azad's heartbreaking departure from his parents and flight across the Syrian border to freedom.

Stunning in its unadorned intensity, My Father's Rifle is a moving portrait of a boy who embraces the land and culture he loves, even as he leaves them.

The New Yorker

Saleem, the son of a Kurdish guerrilla, narrates his harrowing memoir of his family’s experiences in Iraq during the nineteen-sixties and seventies from the naïve perspective of his childhood self. At one point, the family, demoralized by the murder of relatives and the destruction of their home by collaborators, flee to Iran. Later, faced with a choice between repatriation or extermination, they return and are officially labelled aïdoun—meaning “fallen back into line.” At school, Saleem attends classes taught in a language he doesn’t understand (Arabic) and witnesses his young niece die when a doctor refuses to treat a “terrorist’s daughter.” At eighteen, Saleem concludes that war will never advance the Kurdish cause, and he leaves his family and the country he loves.