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are what have brought us to the mess we’re in now. The killing and forced migration that have afflicted moderate Muslims, Christians and Yazidis fall on the shoulders of all these fundamentalists, Sunni and Shia alike. Practices and attitudes that violate women’s bodies, their lives and their mere existence – treating them as public property – not to mention the fatwas that support these practices and attitudes, are bound to make a person angry. I am personally infuriated by both men and women who go along with the fundamentalist way of thinking that’s landed us where we are now.

Bodily pain is a mirror of the pain being experienced by this sick society and its systems. My critique of our current reality is woven into the fabric of the novel. Furthermore, it is a critique of all political associations, from the Syrian Baath to the Iraqi Baath to Communism; similarly, it is directed against fundamentalism, despotic regimes, militant religious systems, Shia Islamic courts and sheikhs whose fatwas shackle Arab people as a whole, and women in particular.

The sick body in my novel is simply the outcome of all the heinous acts committed by these despotic regimes and these parties, whose leaders’ only aim has been to profiteer from this cause or that. I’ve tried not to neglect any of the factors that have contributed to the ruin of Arab people’s lives on the physical, emotional and mental planes alike. All of us are sick, oppressors and oppressed, slayers and slain. We’re a sick society that suffers from serious disabilities and dysfunctions, and the lives of individuals have to be seen in relation to the political, religious and social systems and patriarchal values that surround them.

This novel isn’t some ideological manifesto, but a cry of rage released through the creation of an angry novelistic world. Of course, my country has made me ill, and I say this emphatically. How could I not fall ill when I see Arab society collapsing around me in worn-torn countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq,Yemen and Libya? We live in a state of madness unparalleled in history as Christians,Yazidis, neutral Muslims and others are raped and murdered.Whatever makes Syria, Iraq, Lebanon or any other Arab country ill, makes me ill too. KT:We’re accustomed to seeing you take up women’s concerns and issues in

72 BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021

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