Feline Trauma in Ahmed Saadawi


  • Bushra Jani Al-Nahrain University




Frankenstein, Baghdad, trauma, Nabu, feline, Edgar Allen Poe


Ahmed Saadawi’s literary achievements, notably exemplified in the prize-winning novel, Frankenstein in Baghdad, have earned widespread acclaim for their profound exploration of trauma, violence, and the repercussions of war. Across these narratives, specifically in Frankenstein in Baghdad and the short story “The Exercise,” Saadawi adeptly utilizes cats as essential components to examine closely these thematic depths. This essay meticulously examines the portrayal of cats in Saadawi’s works and their emblematic significance in illuminating the human experience amidst chaos and devastation. Viewing the narrative through the lens of feline characters, Saadawi prompts readers to consider shared vulnerability, resilience, and the intricate complexities of trauma. In Frankenstein in Baghdad, Saadawi ingeniously adapts Mary Shelley’s classic into an Iraqi context, vividly capturing the trauma caused by the American invasion. The monstrous creation, known as the Whatsitsname, serves as a poignant embodiment of war’s horrors, effectively mirroring societal decay. In contrast, the character of Nabu, Elishva’s cat, oscillates between humanization and monstrosity, reflecting both individual and collective struggles. While the short story “The Exercise” remains distinct from the novel, Saadawi’s adept storytelling continues to shine. The male Shirazi cat, Hannoush, within this narrative mirrors the impact of trauma, while the female cat symbolizes resilience. Employing trauma theory and literary analysis, this study unveils how Saadawi’s feline personas serve as poignant mirrors of human suffering, underlining the far-reaching consequences of violence. By juxtaposing this analysis with Poe’s “The Black Cat,” this paper unveils the nuanced portrayal of trauma and violence within the war context, as depicted in Frankenstein in Baghdad.


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