Thirst: A Novel of the Iran-Iraq War, by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi

Paperback review

Thirst: A Novel of the Iran-Iraq War
Thirst: A Novel of the Iran-Iraq War
Author: Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, Translated by Martin E Weir
ISBN-13: 9781908323392
Publisher: Haus Publishing
Guideline Price: £7.99

In the Iran-Iraq War the opposing sides are battling for access to a water tank. They have reached a stalemate: make a break for the water tank and face death by enemy attack or lie low and face death by thirst. This scenario is at the heart of a fictional account being written by an Iraqi journalist, who is also being pressured to fabricate a report of a murder at a prison camp. An Iranian author, meanwhile, is trying to write his version of the water-tank story. Mahmoud Dowlatabadi uses shifting perspectives to create a fractured prism of tales whose deliberate opacity breaks down the boundaries between the warring sides and each nameless individual. A novel about the writing process, it explores how words can be weapons: the official truth is a fiction, and it is only through fiction that the truth is laid bare. Thirst is as universal as it is disturbingly topical.