22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Shahad al-Rawi

Portrait Shahad al-Rawi
© Ali Ghandtschi

Shahad Al Rawi was born in 1986 in Baghdad. After attending the Al Mansour school, she graduated from the University of Damascus.

In 2016, she published her first novel »Sa’at Baghdad« (Eng. »The Baghdad Clock«, 2018). The story is set in a well-to-do neighborhood of the Iraqi capital, at a time between two of the military operations led by the USA in 1991. Two girls have hidden themselves in a bomb shelter. To conquer their fears in the darkness, they tell each other stories, share their desires, and dream of their first loves. The shared traumatic experience brings them close to one another. But after the bombings, the people of the city suffer from the effects of the international sanctions, many flee, and life in the city falls apart. The two girls must come to terms with the fact that their lives will never be the same again. In her novel, Shahad Al Rawi offers insights into a life that doesn’t appear in images in the media. She shows the daily struggle of Baghdad’s inhabitants and children who grow up in a broken and destroyed city and manage to develop incredible strength and resistance against the harsh conditions outside. Apart from embedding the novel in real political events, in her text Al Rawi also explores what it means to lose the connection between language and that which it is supposed to describe. While a word still offers up a wide, synesthestic spectrum of different meanings to child, a child in school is already expected to use the same word in exclusively rational contexts, and for an adult, the same word has ultimately been removed from its meanings. »Precisely for this reason, returning to childhood is important, so we can give fresh consideration to the essence of things. Because of repetition in language, we have distanced ourselves from the environment in which we live. We have begun to live in a world of words.« Al Rawi’s début was reprinted twice soon after its release, has been translated into English and was shortlisted for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Before the book was published, the author was already well-known on social media and also wrote for newspapers. Al Rawi is currently completing her doctorate in management and anthropology and lives in Dubai.