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Farewell Babylon: Coming of Age in Jewish Baghdad (1975)

af Naim Kattan

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In Farewell, Babylon, Naim Kattan takes readers into the heart of exotic mid-19th-century Baghdad's then-teeming Jewish community. Jews had lived in Iraq for 25 centuries, long before the time of Christ or Muhammad, but anti-Semitism and nationalism were on the rise. In this beautifully written memoir, a young boy comes of age and describes his discoveries -- of work, literature, patriotism, the joys of lazy Sundays swimming in the Tigris. He also talks eloquently of his greatest discovery: women and love. This is a story of roots and exile, of thirst for life and life's experiences. But more than that it is a tribute to a lost world, an ancient Eastern city in which Iraq's Kurds, Bedouins, Sunnis, Shiites, Chaldeans, Catholics, and Jews all lived together in a rough, rewarding sort of harmony.… (mere)
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> ADIEU, BABYLONE Mémoires d’un Juif d’Irak, de Naïm Kattan (Albin Michel, 2003). — Dans ses mémoires pleins de vie et d’humanité, Naïm Kattan se fait le témoin d’une réalité que beaucoup ignorent aujourd’hui, et qui n’est pourtant pas si lointaine : celle du passé éminement riche et multiculturel de son Irak natal. Ce récit passionnant prend évidemment de nos jours une densité singulière : il nous rappelle que Bagdad ne fut pas toujours synonyme de dictature et de passions guerrières. (Espaces libres)

> Babelio : https://www.babelio.com/livres/Kattan-Adieu-Babylone--Memoires-dun-juif-dIrak/36...

> BAnQ (Le quotidien du Saguenay - Lac-St-Jean, 31 janv. 1976) : https://diffusion.banq.qc.ca/pdfjs-1.6.210-dist_banq/web/pdf.php/zCMBDa8Snee602L...

> ADIEU BABYLONE, par Naïm Kattan (publié aux Editions La Presse.). — Bagdad. Un enfant juif fait l’apprentissage de la vie, accède à l’âge d’homme. Il se trouve au coeur de multiples contradictions et, d’abord, la guerre, car l’action de ce roman se déroule pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale. Peut-il faire un choix entre l’archaïsme, la tradition, l’histoire et le modernisme, entre l’antique communauté juive, la culture arabe et un Occident fabuleux aux séductions irrésistibles ? C’est ce même Occident qui a le visage des armées britanniques qui occupent l’Irak. Or le jeune juif est aussi un nationaliste arabe qui s’élève contre cette présence étrangère.
Naïm Kattan, qui est né à Bagdad et qui y a passé son enfance et son adolescence, nous dresse, dans ce roman, le portrait d’une communauté juive vieille de 25 siècles. Il décrit également les rapports, à la fois tendus et affectueux, entre juifs et musulmans.
ADIEU BABYLONE est un roman haut en couleur, aux accents puissants. C’est aussi un document d’histoire qui met en lumière l’arrière-plan d’une actualité brillante.
Le bien public, 23 janv. 1976
  Joop-le-philosophe | Apr 14, 2021 |
Farewell, Babylon is the memoir of a Jewish Iraqi ex-pat, talking about his adolescence in 1940s Baghdad. I thought this was gonna be a really interesting book and it mostly ended up being superficial adolescent boy angst that was super boring and irritating. He barely touched on topics that I would have loved to see more fully developed (like the pro-German sentiments that some Iraqis felt because they were the enemies of Iraq's colonizers and how that put Jewish Iraqis in a difficult position because Nazis weren't exactly subtle with their antisemitism or how the creation of Israel affected the Jewish diaspora in the Middle East). Instead there was chapter upon chapter about him visiting prostitutes and obsessing over how much a mystery women were. It basically felt like every other self-important adolescent boy's "coming of age" story that has ever been written and just as boring as all the ones that came before. ( )
  irasobrietate | Jun 4, 2019 |
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And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and his sons. II Chronicles 36:20
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When I wrote this book, the Jewish community of Baghdad, though very small, still existed to some degree.
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In Farewell, Babylon, Naim Kattan takes readers into the heart of exotic mid-19th-century Baghdad's then-teeming Jewish community. Jews had lived in Iraq for 25 centuries, long before the time of Christ or Muhammad, but anti-Semitism and nationalism were on the rise. In this beautifully written memoir, a young boy comes of age and describes his discoveries -- of work, literature, patriotism, the joys of lazy Sundays swimming in the Tigris. He also talks eloquently of his greatest discovery: women and love. This is a story of roots and exile, of thirst for life and life's experiences. But more than that it is a tribute to a lost world, an ancient Eastern city in which Iraq's Kurds, Bedouins, Sunnis, Shiites, Chaldeans, Catholics, and Jews all lived together in a rough, rewarding sort of harmony.

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