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Out of Mesopotamia

(2020)
A novel by

 
 
"In what should well become an essential portrait of the fight against the Islamic State, Salar Abdoh's novel reinvigorates the way we write about war...Nothing less than profound."
--Boswell Book Company, staff pick

"Out of Mesopotamia is a brutally realistic look at war and love and fear and everything else that humans do. The writing is impossibly good. The characters aren't characters at all--they seem to have emerged fully formed from the blood-soaked soil of Syria and Iraq. And they rise up to live out a story that is as old as history and yet somehow could only have happened today. I'm stunned by how good this book is."
--Sebastian Junger, author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

"What a breath of fresh air it is to read Salar Abdoh's brilliant Out of Mesopotamia. Written with razor-sharp intelligence and wit, individual sentences good enough to jolt you out of your chair, and an incredible depth of knowledge in his subject, the book captures the tragedy, comedy, and sheer absurdity of modern war like nothing else I have read."
--Phil Klay, author of Redeployment

"Out of Mesopotamia is an extraordinary novel that captures the ambiguous and often contradictory nature of contemporary conflict as well as anything I've ever read. Herein you will find the story of Saleh, a journalist trying to keep his footing at the intersection of life and death, bitterness and absurdity, and the sacred and the pointless that is the resistance to Islamic State in northern Iraq. His voice is as honest and direct as any you are likely to encounter on the subject of war in the modern world, and I for one will be thinking of him for a long, long time to come."
--Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds

"Out of Mesopotamia is the novel every American should be reading next. A novel so ambitious and exciting and impressive that comparisons fall short. The Executioner's Song and A Tomb for Boris Davidovich come to mind--that's the level of brilliance I'm talking about. Salar Abdoh writes page after page of kinetic fiction. To say this book is full of truth is to shortchange it; this is a book full of art."
--Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

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.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"A man finds himself in a war where nobody really knows what is right or what is wrong. But one thing is certain: if you step into this war, you'd better be at peace with yourself. Abdoh's words can touch everyone because they come from somewhere essential." - Jean-Claude Carrière

"This is a masterful, stylish novel. Through the eye of his disarming, disaffected narrator, Salar Abdoh weaves a story at once wry and aching, beautifully illustrating the paradoxes of war in the field and on the home front. Alternating moments of brutality and comradeship, Abdoh's novel shows war's pointless heroisms, its random accidents, its absurdities, and its ongoing human costs. This is at once a probing and masterful novel of the disaster in Syria and Iraq, and an affectionate yet gimlet-eyed view of masculinity, art, and cultural politics." - Lydia Kiesling


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Hardback Editions

September 2020 : USA Hardback
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Title: Out of Mesopotamia
Author(s): Salar Abdoh
ISBN: 1-61775-860-4 / 978-1-61775-860-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Akashic Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Audio Editions

September 2020 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Out of Mesopotamia
Author(s): Salar Abdoh
ISBN: 1-66203-164-5 / 978-1-66203-164-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


September 2020 : USA Audio edition
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Title: Out of Mesopotamia
Author(s): Salar Abdoh
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
Availability: Amazon   


September 2020 : Australia Audio edition
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Title: Out of Mesopotamia
Author(s): Salar Abdoh
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
Availability: Amazon AU   


September 2020 : UK Audio edition
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Title: Out of Mesopotamia
Author(s): Salar Abdoh
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
Availability: Amazon UK   


Kindle Editions

September 2020 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: Out of Mesopotamia
Author(s): Salar Abdoh
Publisher: Akashic Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU