Home 5 Reviews 5 Nasher’s Review of “Over The Republican Bridge”

Nasher’s Review of “Over The Republican Bridge”

by | Sep 22, 2021 | Reviews

Author: Shahad Al Rawi

Publishing house: Dar Al Hikma, London

The young Iraqi author, Shahad Al Rawi returns with her second book ‘Over The Republican Bridge’ and after the success that her debut novel ‘The Baghdad Clock’ achieved, many readers were wondering what will Al Rawi next book be about and how different it will be.

In ‘Over The Republican Bridge’ the reader is invited to witness how the 2003 American invasion of Iraq and prior events impacts not just one generation but three; the grandparents, the parents, and children, and how one location, or rather the Republican Bridge is the place that plays a major part in one family over the decades. The novel begins with the bridge and ends with it, and just as it represents hope and change, it is also a source of danger and despair. Thinking about the bridge and its symbolic meaning within the novel, one comes to the realisation that just as ‘bridges’ are the way we cross over the river from onside to another without much thought to what awaits us, the bridge in Al Rawi’s novel is the deciding factor in every character’s fate, it is the deciding factor between new and old, life and death.

It is on the Republic Bridge that the protagonist recalls how the American Tanks were crossing into the heart of Baghdad, signaling the end of Iraq that everyone knew and the start of the unknown journey that many people had to take. Like most people in Iraq, the protagonist and her family leave Iraq into an unknown neighbouring country where they aim to start a new life, only to lose their mother to a deadly illness less than a month later. It is then that the reader is again struck by the use of symbolism, whether it is intended or not, the loss of the mother figure is the loss of one’s home country, loss of security, and the loss of belonging. This is demonstrated through the novel’s nameless protagonist, who throughout the book has no clear sense of belonging, not with her sister, father, cousin, or friends. Even when she tries to fall in love, it is a half-hearted attempt, which confirms the point that she has no sense of belonging and by finding a romantic interest, she assumed that will be her focal point after all don’t we all need something or someone that we call home?

In ‘Over The Republic Bridge’ the theme of escapement and longing for the past are evident at every stage of the novel, even before the family’s departure of Iraq there is a sense of longing to the past by the mother when she talks about her school, and it is clear that people often look back to the past with a romanticised view yet in our protagonist case, even the good times are marred with sorrow such as the death of her uncle during the first war that Iraq endured in the 80s.

If you have been following the work of Al Rawi, you would have noticed that there is a sense of maturity in ‘Over The Republic Bridge’ in her writing in the way that the characters are all given space to form a bond with the readers, they are all multi-dimensional with flaws and attractive qualities; essentially they are humanised by their contradictory qualities, no one is perfect, and that is the aspect of Al Rawi’s characters that made them memorable to readers. The novel’s ending is another sign of Al Rawi’s progression and maturity as a writer, it is daring and different which might leave some readers disappointed at the unexpected ending but for others, it is a fitting and realistic end for a troubled community such as Iraqis with their long-suffering history and any other end would have just been unacceptable and unrelatable.

Regardless of your nationality or background, ‘Over The Republic Bridge’ is a good read for anyone who has experienced loss in its various nature, it is a journey of acceptance and on this journey, you will meet many characters that shape your thoughts and outlook on life. We at Nasher have given it a rating of 3/5.

Recent News

25Jun
Record Attendance at Beijing’s Revamped Book Fair

Record Attendance at Beijing’s Revamped Book Fair

 Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) wrapped up on 23 June with organisers reporting more visitors and more international countries represented since before the pandemic. The fair’s new venue was warmly welcomed with organisers concluding:  “BIBF is forging ahead with hope and embracing the changes.”    This vear saw 1,600 exhibitors of which 1,050 were international […]

25Jun
Manilla Press Acquires Kenji Ueda’s Latest Novel

Manilla Press Acquires Kenji Ueda’s Latest Novel

A new race is on among publishers see who can find the next Japanese/Korean ‘quiet lit’ sensation.  The latest acquisition is by the UK’s Bonnier Books Manilla Press which has pre-empted Letters from the Ginza Shihodo Stationery Shop by Kenji Ueda, translated by Emily Balistrieri.   The publisher says the novel, set in the Ginza […]

24Jun
Boris Johnson to “Unleash” Political Tell-All Amidst Election Turmoil

Boris Johnson to “Unleash” Political Tell-All Amidst Election Turmoil

HarperCollins wins former PM’s memoirs With the Conservatives trailing in the polls in the UK, HarperCollins has announced it is to publish the memoirs of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  Unleashed will be published in the UK by William Collins on 10 October and in the US by Harper on 15 October.   The Conservatives […]

Related Posts

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota – Book Review

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota – Book Review

China Room is a tale of injustice that narrates the story of an alienated youth who travels to remote rural India, where his great-grandmother lived in 1929, at 18, he is in the throes of heroin addiction. His account of a summer spent in rural Punjab is interspersed...

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson : Book Review

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson : Book Review

  Open water is British-Ghanian writer and photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson’s debut novel .It follows 2 main characters as they cross paths and become entangled in each other’s lives. Open Water is narrated in thirty chapters from the perspective of an unnamed...

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie – Book Review

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie – Book Review

Kamila Shamsie’s novel “Best of Friends” begins at this volatile time — and in a volatile location, too: Karachi, 1988. The best friends are Maryam Khan and Zahra Ali. Maryam is intuitive and romantic; Zahra cerebral and skeptical. Both are 14 years old. Both are...

Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this

Pin It on Pinterest