A Sky So Close by Betool Khedairi
A Novel

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Synopsis

This haunting coming-of-age story about a girl growing up in wartime Iraq was the subject of heated controversy when it was published in the Middle East; now in English, it offers American readers a rare chance to experience an Iraqi childhood.
The frank, determined narrator is a schoolgirl living in a small town in the Iraqi countryside when the book opens. Torn between the cultures of her parents, she loves the simple pleasures of provincial life in her father’s native land but, at the urging of her English mother, she is thrown into the study of Western music and ballet and becomes a devoted dancer by the time the family relocates to Baghdad. Even as the city around her is transformed by the blackouts and
deprivations of the war between Iran and Iraq, she propels herself passionately through the full range of teenage discovery. The death of her father, her first love affair, and her mother’s unexpected illness carry her into adulthood and ultimately to London, where she confronts, with surprising results, the other half of her East–West legacy.

A Sky So Close is a captivating look at contemporary Iraq from the inside out—a stunning re-creation of the surreality of life during wartime, and the story of a young woman coming to terms with the seemingly unbridgeable cultures from which she is formed.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Betool Khedairi

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Betool Khedairi lives in Amman, Jordan.
 
Published December 15, 2010 by Anchor. 258 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Sky So Close

Kirkus Reviews

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particularly by the florid presence of the narrator’s demonstrative instructor “Madame” and several members of the latter’s circle, including a sculptor named Saleem, ten years older than the narrator, who romances her efficiently, but is soon spirited away to fight in the border war with Iran.

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The New York Times

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That the 6-year-old girl's sympathies rest with her Iraqi father rather than her English mother is only natural: her mother is a less than gracious expatriate who forbids her daughter to visit her friend Khaddouja, who lives in the shanty house behind their farm.

Aug 12 2001 | Read Full Review of A Sky So Close: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Viewed mostly through the increasing changes in daily life—rationing, travel restrictions and the dance school's closing—the effects of war are juxtaposed against the girl's exposure to the beleaguered artistic community in Baghdad and her first love affair.

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