Heads Ripe for Plucking
An Arab tyrant once infamously declared, 'I see heads that are ripe for plucking.' Mahmoud Al-Wardani's novel turns the statement on its head, using it as a point of departure to delineate a whole history of Arab tyranny and oppression. In Heads Ripe for Plucking, an impaled head seeks solace in narrating to itself stories of others who have sustained a similar fate. Beheadings, both literal and metaphorical - torture, murder, decapitation, brainwashing, losing one's head - are the subject of the six stories that unfold over thethree sections of this novel. The narrative takes us from the most archetypal beheading in Arabo-Islamic history, that of al-Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, via the torture of communists in Nasser's detention camps, the meanderings of a Cairene teenager unwittingly caught in the 'bread riots' of 1977, a crimepassionnel in a family alienated by petrodollars, the remembering of a father killed in the 1991 Gulf War and recovery of his lost manuscript on the eve of the millennium, into a dystopic future where heads are periodically severed to undergo maintenance and reloading of programs. The novel garnered critical acclaim for its experimentation with language and form as much as for its excavation of alternative histories.
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Abd al-Latif Rushdi Abd al-Wahab Abu Zaabal Prison Ahmad al-Ghul al-Hurr al-Husayn Alexandria Alia alleys Arab arms asked aunt Basra beat beheading bitch body Cairo Cairo Trilogy caliph called chanting Chivas Regal cigarette Communist companions daughter death demonstrators door e-mail Egyptian emirate palace envelope eyes face father felt finally Free Officers front gave girls going Habiba Hajj hand hash Heads Ripe Heba Heba's Ibrahim Iqbal Iraq iron bridge Islamic Cairo jailers Kufa leaned looked Louis Awad managed minute months morning Mosque mother Muhammad Mukhtar Museum Muslim Nagat Nagi Naguib Mahfouz nationalist night novel picked pulled Pyramids Qalawun Qarmatian reached remember Ripe for Plucking Saad Sadat Sayyida Zaynab screamed Shaker's Shuhdi smell smile soldiers started stopped story street stretched suitcase thing thought tion took torture turned Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad Umar voice walked woman Yazid