'The Last Book of Baghdad' gets a release party - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

‘The Last Book of Baghdad’ gets a release party

Author Justin Sirois with Book Editor/Collaborator, Haneen Alshujairy

On Thursday evening at Atomic Books in Hampden, a release party was held to celebrate the unveiling of “The Last Book of Baghdad: Part Two of the Fallujah Burning Series,”

One of the extraordinary things about this novel, and Part One as well, is that its author, Justin Sirois, has never been to war-torn Iraq. His editor and collaborator, Haneen Alshujairy, however, is a native of Baghdad, Iraq, and had also lived briefly in Fallujah. That city was her father’s hometown. She was living in Baghdad during the blood-stained Iraq War. The two met on the Internet and worked long hours together to bring the two volumes to fruition. In fact, they “collaborated for eight years.”

Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books, and host of the program.

Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books, and host of the program.

As fate would have it, Thursday was the very first time the talented duo have met face to face. Ms. Alshujairy, an Iraqi refugee, immigrated to the U.S. a few years back. She first lived on the West Coast. Recently, she moved East and now calls Baltimore home.

The program was hosted by Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books. Author Sirois and Ms. Aslhujairy explained how they ended up working together on the project. Sirois read excerpts from his novel. And, Ms. Alshujairy read some poetry, in Arabic, from the book. Bret McCabe of the “City Paper” served as the moderator. A lively Q&A period followed.

The novel revolves around characters striving to survive in war-torn Baghdad. A man is kidnapped and his wife tries to “locate” him while “navigating the deadly city.”

Author D. Watkins calls the Last Book of Baghdad, “raw, riveting and revealing,” and labels Sirois “a master storyteller.”

I leave that last word on Sirois’ novels to author Michael Kimball. He wrote: “The Fallujah Burning Series” might be the only fictional account by an American author that highlights historical tragedies on the Iraq War while giving voice to diverse Iraqi perspectives. ‘The Last Book of Baghdad’ and ‘Falcons on the Floor’, (its predecessor series), show the human cost of the U.S.’s failed policies and the lasting effects it has on our shared global community. This is essential reading.”

For party photos check out my Facebook page.

About the author

Bill Hughes

Bill Hughes is a native of Baltimore. He’s an attorney, author, professional actor and hobbyist photographer. His latest book is “Baltimore Iconoclast” and it can be found at: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000076922/Baltimore-Iconoclast.aspx. Contact the author.