Kheidari Profile

British-Iraqi author Betool Khedairi talks to Charles Recknagel about her childhood in Baghdad and London, A Sky So Close, her debut memoir and The Absent One, the satire that she recently completed.

“I wanted to write about Iraq, but [the situation there] was so depressing that I felt no one would read it,” Khedairi said. “So I tried to write it in a comic way, and I came up with a black comedy. I chose one building where everything happens. And every floor of the building represents an Iraqi layer of society (…) She said that the book “talks about an Iraq, an old Iraq, known to Iraqis but unknown to the West, and it ends with a new Iraq being known to the West but unknown to Iraqis.” As in her first book, Khedairi has tried not to prescribe how her subjects — or her country — should cope with the competing pulls of Eastern and Western values. Instead, she focuses on how ordinary people make their own choices and often suffer the consequences of political decisions made far beyond their own homes.

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