The Traveler and the Innkeeper
This timely, elegant novel's hero is an Iraqi secret police inspector who routinely uses enhanced interrogation techniques, which even he considers torture. Convinced that he is protecting society from anarchy, he is at peace with the world until ordered to interrogate a childhood friend, a journalist with possible links to violent subversives. Then he falls in love with his friend's wife. The plot of this novel, which was written in Iraq in 1976 and published in Arabic in Germany in 1989, is further complicated by street protests in Baghdad following the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War of June 1967. Despite the grim subject matter of this novel, it is at heart a love story, lyrically narrated.
Fadhil al-Azzawi was born in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 1940. He is the author of several novels and collections of poetry. He has lived in Germany since 1977. His novels The Last of the Angels and Cell Block Five were published in English by the American University in Cairo Press in 2007 and 2008. William M. Hutchins, professor in the Philosophy and Religion Department at Appalachian State University, is the translator of a number of works of Arabic fiction, including Fadhil al-Azzawi's The Last of the Angels and Cell Block Five. He was awarded the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of A Land without Jasmine by Wajdi al-Ahdal.