Life After Baghdad

by Somekh, Sasson

This is a follow-on volume to the author’s highly successful “Baghdad, Yesterday” (Ibis Editions, Jerusalem, 2007), which told of Sasson Somekh’s boyhood in the city of his birth and the circumstances under which his family decided to forsake Iraq, a land in which they were rooted for centuries, and move to Israel. It was highly acclaimed in the TLS and London Review of Books, and in the Israeli Ha’aretz, “It is hard to overstate the beauty, originality, lucidity, gentleness, wisdom and importance of Baghdad, Yesterday.” This volume continues the story where the 2007 volume ends. Somekh, a noted student of modern Arabic culture, relates his life as a university professor and writer, taking the reader to Oxford, Princeton and Cairo, and introducing scholars and writers he befriended: S D Goitein, Mustafa Badawi and Haim Blanc, among others. He devotes a major section to Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) with whom he maintained a close comradeship for three decades, and from whom he received the following letter: “Both our peoples knew extraordinary partnership for many years in ancient times, during the Middle Ages, and in the modern era, with …quarrels being few and far between. Unfortunately, we have documented the disputes a hundred times more than the periods of friendship and co-operation …”