12.10.2005

still burning

Most of you know Baghdad Burning, written by the incomparable Riverbend. Did you know her blog is now available in book form? A wmtc reader just emailed me this:
Iraqi women's voices have been virtually silent since the fall of Baghdad. Yet four months after Saddam's statue toppled in April 2003, the pseudonymous Riverbend, a Baghdad native then 24 years old, began blogging about life in the city in dryly idiomatic
English.... This year's worth of Riverbend's commentary -- passionate, frustrated, sarcastic and sometimes hopeful -- runs to September 2004....The blog continues at riverbendblog. blogspot.com; like this book, it offers quick takes on events as they occur, from a perspective too often overlooked, ignored or suppressed." --Publisher's Weekly

"Once a computer programmer who enjoyed considerable personal freedom, after Baghdad's fall, Riverbend finds herself unemployed and largely restricted....In English that would put many Americans to shame, she chronicles daily life under the occupation, writing about water and electricity shortages with humor and exasperation, writing about violence with deep feeling. She also explains more
complicated topics..."

COPIES NOW AVAILABLE*
Trade Paper (New) $14.95
http://www.powells.com/dose/cgi-bin/product?isbn=1558614893
Thank you to my friend in Waterloo!

6 comments:

James said...

I find this line interesting:

In English that would put many Americans to shame

Why wouldn't she speak good English?

It reminds me of an Eddie Izzard line:

I asked the Dutch clerk if he spoke English, and he looked at me and said, "Of course!". Then I realized that that was like asking an Englishman, "Can you count to three?"

Not to mention that the US has plenty to be ashamed about in the English department just with the way the President mangles the language... :P

L-girl said...

Why wouldn't she speak good English?

For that matter, why would she?

I know what you're saying, but this can be read another way, too. We shouldn't assume people in Iraq speak English. It's not a universal language.

Not to mention that the US has plenty to be ashamed about in the English department just with the way the President mangles the language... :P

I think the writer is agreeing with you: "put many Americans to shame". That someone in Iraq as a better command of English than many Americans is not exactly a compliment to the US!

James said...

For that matter, why would she?

No reason; it just shouldn't be remarkable that she does.

It's not a universal language.

No, but at the moment it's the closest thing.

I think the writer is agreeing with you: "put many Americans to shame". That someone in Iraq as a better command of English than many Americans is not exactly a compliment to the US!

Oh, I know that's what was meant. My point is that just about any literate English speaker puts Bush to shame -- which should embarass more Americans than it does.

redsock said...

Her reporting skills and depth of analysis also put most US journalists to shame.

(I'm willing to bet that most Americans believe that very few Iraqis speak English. Maybe some government people, because they have do. But regular citizens, no.)

L-girl said...

(I'm willing to bet that most Americans believe that very few Iraqis speak English. Maybe some government people, because they have do. But regular citizens, no.)

I'm sure you're right, which goes to what James is saying.

On the other hand, too many Americans think only people who do speak English (preferably un-accented!) are intelligent.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Riverbend writes beautifully in English - but neither should we expect her to, or think she has to. I'm thinking of the many American tourists who expect everyone to speak English everywhere they go, and make no attempt to communicate in any other language. This idea that English is the standard.

L-girl said...

which should embarass more Americans than it does.

Indeed, that's a capsule version of the problem right there.