Frankenstein in Baghdad
First edition (publ. al Kamel)
AuthorAhmed Saadawi
LanguageIraqi Arabic
GenreWar, horror, supernatural fiction
Set inBaghdad, Iraq
Publication placeIraq
Award2014 IPAF award (International Prize for Arabic Fiction)

Frankenstein in Baghdad (Arabic: فرانكشتاين في بغداد) is a 2013 Arabic novel written by the Iraqi writer Ahmed Saadawi. It won the IPAF award (International Prize for Arabic Fiction) for 2014.[1] The novel was translated into English by Jonathan Wright.[2]

The novel is a wartime spin on Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.[3]


In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a junk-dealer named Hadi al-Attag collects the scattered body parts of bomb victims with the intention of giving them a proper burial. Al-Attag first stitches the body parts together to create a single body, calling it "Whatsitsname", but when he leaves the body alone, the spirit of another bomb victim enters the corpse and brings it to life. Whatsitsname starts on a mission of vengeance, killing those he considers responsible for the deaths of the bomb victims, but his actions spin out of control when he begins justifying the murder of other people for valuable body parts, raising questions around guilt, innocence and justice.


The New York Times stated that the novel "blends the unearthly, the horrific and the mundane to terrific effect".[4] A review in Haaretz called Saadawi's writing style clever, combining "compassionate moments of grace and sympathy" with "macabre humor that adds a cynical view of the goings-on".[5] British reviewer Sarah Perry suggested that the novel evokes Kafka as well as Shelley, its story emphasizing the pointlessness and surrealism of war.[2]


  1. ^ "BBC News - IPAF award: Frankenstein in Baghdad wins Arab fiction prize". BBC News. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b Perry, Sarah (16 February 2018). "Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi review – strange, violent and wickedly funny". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  3. ^ Di Giovanni, Janine (21 December 2014). "Reading 'Frankenstein' in Baghdad". Newsweek. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  4. ^ Garner, Dwight (22 January 2018). "In 'Frankenstein in Baghdad,' a Fantastical Manifestation of War's Cruelties". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  5. ^ Bizawe, Eyal Sagui (8 August 2017). "Arab Sci-fi Novel 'Frankenstein in Baghdad' Embodies All That's Evil in Modern-day Iraq". Haaretz. Retrieved 26 February 2020.