My Father's Rifle

A Childhood in Kurdistan

Hiner Saleem; Translated by Catherine Temerson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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A young Kurd comes of age in a war-torn land.

This beautiful, spare narrative tells of the life of a boy named Azad--in fact the author, a Kurdish filmmaker--as he grows to manhood in Iraq during the 1960s and 1970s. Azad is born into a vibrant village culture, to a family that is proud of its Kurdish past and hopes for a free Kurdish future. He loves his mother's orchard, his cousin's stunt pigeons, his father's old Czech rifle, his brother who is fighting in the mountains. But before he is even of school age, Azad has experienced strafing and bombing; he watches as friends and neighbors are assassinated; and he sees his father humiliated when he tries to get food for his starving family. Forced into a refugee camp in Iran for years, his family realizes, on their return, that Saddam Hussein and his regime are destroying the autonomy he had promised their people. In a burst of adolescent impatience, Azad briefly runs off to the mountains to fight for Kurdish liberty, like his brother.

But Azad has also discovered art--drawings, poetry, film--and he senses that he must find his own way to advance the Kurdish cause. My Father's Rifle ends with his heartbreaking departure from his parents and flight across the Syrian border to freedom. Stunning in its unadorned intensity, My Father's Rifle is a moving portrait of a boy who embraces the land and culture he loves, even as he leaves them.

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Book Excerpts

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  My Father's Rifle

 
 My name is Azad Shero Selim. I am Selim Malay’s grandson. My grandfather had a good sense of humor. He used to say he was born a Kurd, in a free country. Then the Ottomans arrived and said to my grandfather, “You’re Ottoman,” so he became Ottoman. At the fall of the Ottoman Empire, he became Turkish. The Turks left and he became a Kurd again in the kingdom of Sheikh Mahmoud, king of the Kurds. Then the British arrived, so my grandfather became a subject of His Gracious Majesty and even learned a few words of English.

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Reviews

Praise for My Father's Rifle

"This is a little gem of a book. Painfully honest, beautifully composed, My Father's Rifle sets down the author’s compelling experience of growing up as a boy in Iraqi Kurdistan with a bittersweet clarity that cuts right through all the fog of war and propagandized history." --Jon Lee Anderson
 
"Children speak the truth. This beautiful and remarkable book tells the story of the Kurdish people as seen by a child. His father would be proud." --Gil Courtemanche, author of A Sunday by the Pool at Kigali

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About the Author

Hiner Saleem; Translated by Catherine Temerson

Hiner Saleem, an internationally acclaimed filmmaker, was born in 1964 in Iraqi Kurdistan. After fleeing Iraq in the late 1970s, he lived in Syria, Florence, and then Paris, where he began making movies. His feature films include Vodka Lemon

Hiner Saleem

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Available Formats and Book Details

My Father's Rifle
A Childhood in Kurdistan
Hiner Saleem; Translated by Catherine Temerson

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
January 2006
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429930062
ISBN10: 1429930063
112 pages
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
January 2006
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312424756
ISBN10: 0312424752
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 112 pages
$16.00
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From The Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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