The Bird Tattoo
Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2021
For readers who loved Khaled Husseini’s bestselling novel The Kite Runner, a dramatic and moving story spanning two tumultuous decades in Iraq.
Helen is a young Yazidi woman, living with her family in a mountain village in Sinjar, northern Iraq. One day she finds a local bird caught in a trap, and frees it, just as the trapper, a man called Elias, returns. At first he is angry at Helen for undoing his work, but soon he sees the error of his ways and vows never to keep a bird captive again.
Helen and Elias fall deeply in love, marry and start a family. But their happy existence is shattered when Elias, a journalist, goes missing. A brutal Organization is taking over the land, its members cloaking their violence in religious devotion. Helen’s search for her husband results in her own captivity. She is transported to a market and callously sold to the highest bidder, again and again.
She eventually escapes her captors and is reunited with some of her family. But her life is forever changed. Elias remains missing and her sons, now young recruits to the Organization, are like strangers. Will she find harmony and happiness again?
Chronicling a world of great upheaval, love and loss, beauty and horror, The Bird Tattoo will stay in readers’ minds long after the last page.