Santa Claus in Baghdad: Book summary and reviews of Santa Claus in Baghdad by Elsa Marston

Santa Claus in Baghdad

Stories About Teens in the Arab World

by Elsa Marston

Santa Claus in Baghdad by Elsa Marston X
Santa Claus in Baghdad by Elsa Marston
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  • Published Jul 2008
    200 pages
    Genre: Short Stories

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Book Summary

What is it like to be a young person in the Arab world today? This lively collection of eight short stories about Arab teenagers living in Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and a Palestinian refugee camp engagingly depicts young people's experiences growing up in the Middle East. The characters, drawn from urban and rural settings and from different classes as well as a mix of countries, confront situations involving friends, family, teachers, and society at large. Along with some specifically Middle Eastern issues, such as strife in Iraq, the hardships of life in a Palestinian refugee camp, and honor crimes, the young people deal with more familiar concerns such as loyalty to friends, overcoming personal insecurities, dreams of a future career, and coping with divorcing parents.

Coming of age in a complicated world, they meet life with courage, determination, and, not least of all, humor. With accompanying notes that provide contextual information, Santa Claus in Baghdad brings a fresh perspective to youth literature about the Arab world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Marston's timely and engaging collection of eight short stories offers provocative snapshots of Arab teenagers growing up in environments riddled with religious, historical and cultural dilemmas." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Though few examples of popular culture depict Arabs in a positive light, Marston's collection is one of the exceptions." "Marston, who worked and traveled extensively to the Middle East, has an uncanny ability to understand the Muslim culture and relay her characters' innermost thoughts to Western audiences." - Foreword Magazine.

"Reading this collection will be invaluable for Arab American YAs and for all in our culture eager to understand the Arab culture, the Middle East conflicts, and current events." - KLIATT.

"The tragedy of peaceful citizens caught up in the savagery of occupation, civil strife, class prejudices, and deadly rituals are brought to life in Marston’s collection of stories about Middle Eastern teens. The cover tale is a moving remake of O. Henry’s classic “Gift of the Magi.” Iraqi schoolchildren want to honor their departing teacher with a special gift. The value of friendship, the easy ingenuity of children, and the deep longing for learning, which are recurring themes in many of these stories, are strongly evidenced. The brutal treatment of women in Jordan is addressed in “Honor” as Wafa watches in horror when her family imprisons her cousin who has been seen talking to a boy. The run-up to an honor killing and the efforts by human rights organizations in Jordan to stop the killings takes the reader step-by-step through the capture of the disgraced girl by hooded assailants. The plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanese camps lays out the path from numbing despair to the lure of the terrorist life. The camps are filled with demoralized young men who cannot get work or who have had to drop out of college, with no way to improve their lives. Marston’s characters, however, are able to find another way. In these and other stories, Marston, who has lived and visited the countries of which she writes, offers a realistic portrait of the Middle East that mixes possibility and bleakness in equal measure." - Voice of Youth Advocates, highlighted review Aug 2008.

This information about Santa Claus in Baghdad was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

For more about Elsa Marson, visit her website.

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