Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pg. 99: Farnaz Fassihi's "Waiting for An Ordinary Day"

Now featured at the Page 99 Test: Farnaz Fassihi's Waiting for An Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq.

About the book, from the publisher:
A Wall Street Journal correspondent's wrenching portrait of ordinary Iraqis, their lives possessed by "the genie of terrorism chaos and mayhem" unleashed by the American invasion

Since 2003, Iraq's bloody legacy has been well-documented by journalists, historians, politicians, and others confounded by how Americans were seduced into the war. Yet almost no one has spoken at length to the constituency that represents Iraq's last best hope for a stable country: its ordinary working and middle class.

Farnaz Fassihi, The Wall Street Journal's intrepid senior Middle East correspondent, bridges this gap by unveiling an Iraq that has remained largely hidden since the United States declared their "Mission Accomplished." Fassihi chronicles the experience of the disenfranchised as they come to terms with the realities of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In an unforgettable portrait of Iraqis whose voices have remained eerily silent—from art gallery owners to clairvoyants, taxi drivers to radicalized teenagers—Fassihi brings to life the very people whose goodwill the U.S. depended upon for a successful occupation. Haunting and lyrical, Waiting for An Ordinary Day tells the long-awaited story of post-occupation Iraq through native eyes.
Among the praise for the book:
"Of all the fine, brave books that have been written about the Iraq debacle, this is the indispensable one. The Wall Street Journal's outspoken Iraq correspondent, Farnaz Fassihi, has a reporter's eye, a humanist's heart, and a fierce identification with the people she was assigned to cover. This is not a book about military tactics or political blunders, but of the effects of these things on ordinary Iraqi lives. Heartbreaking and resonant, Fassihi's work makes her a worthy successor to the great war correspondent Martha Gellhorn in understanding that ‘War happens to people, one by one.'"
—Geraldine Books, author of Nine Parts of Desire, People of the Book and the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel March

"Farnaz Fassihi's book is an astonishing insight into ordinary life in modern Iraq. Very few foreign journalists can equal her contact with, knowledge of, and empathy for individual Iraqis and their families. She patiently describes private lives and local pain. Her descriptions expose much of what is glib and inadequate in our analysis and policy. Waiting for an Ordinary Day is a very important contribution to our understanding of the experience of occupation."
—Rory Stewart, author of The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq and The Places In Between

"[A] fascinating account of life in Iraq that helps us understand why stability there has been so elusive. In her richly textured, deftly written narrative, Fassihi chronicles the shattered dreams of the middle-class Iraqis who welcomed the Americans as liberators, using their stories to illustrate the country's unraveling. Waiting for an Ordinary Day is a must-read for anyone who cares about Iraq and its future."
—Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
Read an excerpt from Waiting for An Ordinary Day, and learn more about the book at the PublicAffairs website.

Farnaz Fassihi is the deputy bureau chief for Middle East and Africa for The Wall Street Journal, now based in Beirut, Lebanon. She joined the Journal in January 2003 and was immediately sent to Iraq. Her family is Iranian-American; she has degrees in English from Tehran University and in journalism from Columbia University.

The Page 99 Test: Waiting for An Ordinary Day.

--Marshal Zeringue