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Reflections of a working writer and reader

 

 

Baghdad’s Book Market

Michele Neubert, NBC News Producer, has a nice article about the re-awakening of the al-Mutanabi book market in the centre of Baghdad.

“It’s an old disease in Iraq – people spend their money on books, not on food. Iraqi intellectuals are very poor because of it.”

The district was attacked by a suicide car-bomber last March, but is now beginning to open up again.

book marketIraqis looking for bargains at the weekly open air book market at al-Mutanabi street in central Baghdad in May 2006. Booksellers of every description showed their stock at al-Mutanabi’s street-level spaces. You could shop here for technical manuals, ornate copies of the Quran or a selection of pirated software.

al-mutanabi“The book market has always been a favorite for international TV crews. In Saddam’s days, it was the place of choice for thoughtful interviews and good English.While there, we’d often rummage through the fascinating array of new and second hand books.

Sometimes, amid the stock-in-trade Iraqi government propaganda, we’d come across a favorite old out-of-print paperback or a must have memento, like an elegantly illustrated book of Arab love poetry that I found one day.”

car stallAfter the blast, which claimed the lives of more than 100 people, Iraqi intellectuals gathered amid the ruins on the 8th March 2007. Baghdad poets read extracts from their work on what remained of the street.

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