Beyond the Mainstream Narrative: Seeing the Other Side of the Story through the Lens of Yasmina Khadra’s The Sirens of Baghdad

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Avijit Das, Dr. Shri Krishan Rai


The present paper offers a critical and comprehensive understanding of how Yasmina Khadra’s fiction The Sirens of Baghdad (2008) provides a counter-narrative to the institutionalized politics of the Western hegemonic discourse regarding the people living in the conflicting country of Iraq. Set against the backdrop of America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, the novel attempts to unearth the psyche of the young men of decent origins taking up arms against the Western forces. The narrator of the novel represents thousands of young men who are often branded as religious fanatics in the West, but are actually fighting against the injustices, inequalities and humiliations which they have to endure. The writer’s professed aim is not to justify radicalism and violence, but to provide a thorough understanding of some of the main drives which led to the occurrence of violence in these war-torn regions. According to Tabish Khair, “Violence, in other words, is not a free choice at the social level...These individuals are usually those who feel that an injustice had been done to them and theirs, those who labour under an overpowering feeling of deprivation.”(Khair, 2008 p.10) Rather than portraying religion as the source of hatred, the novel emphasised the social and political issues. One of the main hindrances, the author believes, in the process of establishing peace in these conflicting territories is the Western stereotyping, which the author tries to dismantle in the following novel. The present paper also offers a comparative study with John Updike’s fiction Terrorist in order to vindicate the countering of the Western narrative in The Sirens of Baghdad.

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