• The Iraqi Novel and the Christians of Iraq

    After the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian regime in 2003, the Christian communities of Iraq faced forced emigration. In this article I examine how the Christians of Iraq and their recent precarious situation are reflected in the Iraqi novel. First, I set the political and conceptual grounds with an exposition of the debate over the place of Christians in the Iraqi nation, as discussed by two Iraqi intellectuals belonging to the Sunni and Shi‘i Muslim traditions. This debate frames the liberal political discourse on the Christians and thus provides a framework for the analysis of the novels, the main focus of the article. Iraqi novelists are less refined than intellectuals and politicians in their exposition of views about Christians, or in the case of Christian novelists, their views of their own community and of Iraqi Muslims. I examine representations of Christians in novels written by both Muslim and Christian Iraqi writers, as well as how novels by Christian Iraqi writers reflect the controversy they live with and the crisis of their identity vis à vis their community and its current place in Iraq. What emerges is that increasing numbers of Christians question both their alliance with the Arabs in Iraq and, even more so, their Arab identity. For various reasons Arab Muslim intellectuals find this difficult to accept.