Marina Benjamin is a senior editor at Aeon Magazine. She is a former arts editor of the New Statesman magazine and deputy arts editor of the Evening Standard newspaper in London. Among her books, Living at the End of the World looked at modern end-time cults, Rocket Dreams offered an off-beat elegy to the Space Age, and Last Days in Babylon told the story of the Jews of Iraq. Following on from her widely acclaimed midlife memoir, The Middlepause (2016), her latest autobiographical work, Insomnia, was published in 2018.
Naim Kattan grew up in a multicultural Baghdad as did Marina Benjamin’s grandmother. A violent pogrom shook their world in 1941 and eventually 130, 000 Jews were airlifted out of Iraq and scattered across the globe in the early fifties. The two authors discussed colonial Baghdad, the political forces that shape the country today and the fate of its Jewish diaspora.
Momentous Years: 1947-1948
In 1947, Elisabeth Åsbrink, previous winner of the August Prize, intertwines global events with key moments from her personal history as the daughter of a Hungarian survivor. This was the year when Orwell commenced 1984, Israel was about to be born and Dior created the New Look. Writer and global analyst Jonathan Fenby’s forthcoming book Crucible turns the spotlight on 1948, from the beginnings of the Cold War and China’s civil war to the fall out of the creation of India and Pakistan....
Descent into Darkness
In Insomnia, Marina Benjamin has produced an unsettling account of an unsettling condition, treating our inability to sleep not as a disorder, but as an existential experience that can electrify our understanding of ourselves, and of creativity and love. Lisa Appignanesi, in Everyday Madness, writes of the rage she experienced when her partner of 32 years died. In this brave examination of an ‘ordinary enough’ death and its aftermath, she scrutinises her own and ...
The Wolf of Baghdad
“The belief is current among Baghdadi Jews that the wolf keeps away spirits and demons.”
David Sassoon, scholar, 1917
Carol Isaac’s graphic memoir of a lost homeland revisits the old Jewish Quarter of 1940s Baghdad, home to a third of the city’s population which witnessed the death or expulsion of almost its entire community of 150,000. Journeying among its ghostly former inhabitants, she brings to life a lost world.