Waiting for the Past : A Novel

Hadiya Hussein’s poignant 2017 novel plunges readers into a haunting and powerful story of resilience. Set at the end of Saddam Hussein’s brutal reign, the novel follows Narjis, a young Iraqi woman, on her quest to discover what has become of the man she loves. Yusef, suspected by the regime of being a dissident, has disappeared-presumably either imprisoned or executed. On her journey, Narjis receives shelter from a Kurdish family who welcome her into their home and meets Umm Hani, an older woman who is searching for her long-lost son. Together they form a bond, and Narjis comes to understand the depth of loss and grief of those around her. At the same time, she is introduced to the warm hospitality of the Kurds, settling into their everyday lives, and embracing their customs. Barbara Romaine’s translation skillfully renders this complex, layered story, giving readers a stark yet beautiful portrait of contemporary Iraq.