Ahmed Saadawi

Ahmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet, and screenwriter born in Baghdad in 1973. He has worked for various local newspapers, magazines, and journalistic institutions. From 2005 to 2007, he served as a correspondent for the BBC in Baghdad. Additionally, he worked as a correspondent for the German-based agency MICT in Berlin.

Currently, Saadawi is involved in the production and writing of documentary films, television programs, and screenplays. He contributes to newspapers such as “Al-Sabah,” “Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed,” and “Al-Mada,” as well as weekly magazines like “Al-Shabaka” and “Tawasul,” all published in Baghdad.

Born in the popular Al-Sadr City district in eastern Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi grew up in a family of seven children. His father worked as a driver in Al-Zawraa Park, the largest government park in Baghdad, which significantly influenced his childhood. Despite his family being distant from cultural pursuits, he was inspired by his uncle, a professional painter, and his uncle interested in cultural affairs. Both encouraged him to read and accompanied him to buy books.

His passion for drawing led him to the Children’s Culture House, a government institution affiliated with the Iraqi Ministry of Culture that published two magazines, one for children and one diverse magazine for boys. Working as an apprentice artist, his drawings were published in the magazine. He initially aspired to become a cartoonist, and his interest in the field remained strong.

Ahmed Saadawi pursued a career in journalism, working as a correspondent for several newspapers while also writing poetry. Additionally, he delved into screenplay writing and documentary film production. Despite his practical career related to creativity, he turned to literary and novel writing.

In 2014, he won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, known as the “Arabic Booker,” for his novel “Frankenstein in Baghdad.” The novel revolves around Hadi Al-Attag, a resident of Al-Batawin popular district, who assembles human remains from explosion victims in Baghdad in the spring of 2005, creating a new body. Later, an unknown spirit inhabits the body, giving rise to a new being named “Shamsa,” meaning “I don’t know what his name is” in Arabic. Authorities label him as the criminal “X,” while others call him “Frankenstein.” This being leads a revenge campaign against those who killed its components.

He received the first prize in the Iraqi Press Festival for the Reportage category in 2004. The first prize for the Arabic Novel in Dubai in 2005 for the novel “The Beautiful Country.” He also received the Hay Festival’s award for the Best 39 Arab Authors under 40 in 2010. Additionally, he received the Italian Translation Award in 2016 for “Frankenstein in Baghdad,” the French Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire in 2017 for the same novel, and “The Golden Tentacle” at The Kitschies Awards in 2019.

Ahmed Saadawi was nominated for the International Booker Prize in 2018 for “Frankenstein in Baghdad,” securing the third position. Some of his notable poetry collections include “The Nazi Idol,” “Excessive Salvation,” “Bad Songs Festival,” and “My Portrait While Dreaming.”

His prominent novels include “Frankenstein in Baghdad,” “Bab Al-Tebashir,” “He Dreams, Plays, or Dies,” “Di’s Memoirs,” and “The Beautiful Country.”

Books Written by Ahmed Saadawi