As was suggested on the back cover, elements of this book did indeed remind me of other prisoner stories, such as those of Eli Wiesel (“Night”) and also a novel called “The Prisoner”, written by Jim McLehrer (about a group of United States bombadier squadron members shot down and taken prisoner in Japan, and the tortures they endured).
When Mustafa kept mentioning how the guards would screw up his last name, he didn’t give. He would correct them, which I saw as a sign of his last refusal to become just another body in the jail. He identified which of his captors could be counted upon for humane treatment (which was relative to the circumstances).
In our country, of course, if you opened your mouth to express an opinion against the goverment, no one would arrest you. I attempted to imagine how it would be for the men of Baghdad, normally “secure” in their place as men, to be treated so terribly, as the women of their country had been for so many years (and still are treated). It would take the slightest act or demonstration of what might be percieved as a traitorous thought or deed, as Noman oft illustrated during his discussions with the other prisoners, to be thrown away by the corrupt ruling society.
Pissed me off, and made me sad. Even the character’s last name.. Noman.. No Man.. there you go. His own heritage against him. His name that he passed onto his children, shared with his wife.
The part about being forced to join the Party, when it was clearly against his beliefs, though what else could he do– imprisonment seemed inevitable, not a question of why or how but only WHEN.. reminds me too of the Von Trapp family, who fled Austria for the United States during World War II, eventually opening an inn.
For a slim book, it’s still tremendously powerful and the messages regarding one’s civil rights, freedoms, all of those ideas and images really spoke to me.