“Every time I try to escape her, I see her shadow behind me, attached to my own. The two merge until I can’t tell them apart.”
—Excerpt from My American Granddaughter by Inaam Kachachi
This edition updates an earlier English translation of the 2008 Arabic novel, which follows protagonist Zeina's return to Irag to serve as an interpreter for the US Army. Zeina, whose parents fled Ba'athist repression when she was a child, harbors two identities: the American one, buttressed by post-9/11 patriotism, and the Iraqi one, frozen in the enchanted childhood of her memory. With these at odds, Zeina enters the war zone soon after the 2003 invasion, lodging at Saddam Hussein's vacated Tikrit palace and eventually visiting Mosul, where "everyone speaks with my grandmother's accent.' A Baghdad reunion with grandmother Rahma, the family's proud keeper of memory, crystallizes the internal struggle Zeina faces in aiding the occupiers of her ancestral homeland. The book poetically explores the stinging sorrow of grasping at the past, the link between language and identity, and the tragic loss of never being able to truly go home again.