Ilene talks to us at Jerusalem Book Fair about her inspiration behind writing Baghdad Fixer:
November 2012 - Book Launch week
Ilene Prusher in conversation with Patrick Cockburn and Charles Glass of ABC news at the Frontline Club, London
“A fascinating story which gives the texture of life in Iraq as it was lived by foreign journalists and Iraqis at the time of the invasion. It conveys a fresher sense of those years than a thousand news reports.”
Patrick Cockburn, Iraq correspondent, The Independent
"A fast-paced, evocative thriller that opens our eyes to the excitements and dangers of Iraq after the fall of Saddam. This gripping, beautifully-observed tale, written with a ring of true authenticity, captures the challenges of a journalist and her loyal fixer navigating their way through an Iraq rarely seen by outsiders."
Rory McCarthy, Nobody Told Us We Are Defeated: Stories from the New Iraq
“Ilene Prusher’s novel is a compelling account of the first few weeks following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime told through the eyes of a fascinating and gracefully drawn Iraqi everyman... Ms Prusher draws us into his story as he is sometimes unwittingly lured deeper and deeper into the world of war journalism, watching with horror as his country descends into chaos.”Borzou Daragahi, Middle East and North African correspondent, Financial Times
"A journalist's fixer is a go-between in so many senses: linguistic, cultural. The fixer straddles borders and boundaries, helping each try to communicate with the Other. Ilene Prusher conjures this so beautifully in her stunning, thrilling debut, as Nabil, an Iraqi English teacher with a poetic soul, is drawn into the unfamiliar, learning as much about his own country and people as about the world in which Samara, the American journalist who has hired him, moves so easily. A unique novel, Baghdad Fixer's compelling plot is combined with poignant and difficult insights into the life and tragedies of ordinary Iraqis during the war. This is not just a wonderful read, it is an important book for helping us, too, to begin to understand the Other."Tania Hershman, My Mother Was An Upright Piano and The White Road and Other Stories
Nabil al-Amari is an English teacher in Baghdad, in Saddam’s Iraq, when a chance encounter with Samara Katchens, an American journalist covering the war, changes his life forever. It is April 2003 and American and British forces have recently invaded Iraq.
Samara, or Sam for short, is ambitious, cynical and determined. Nabil is both fascinated and bewildered by her, and he’s keen to show her things she doesn’t notice in her rush to cover the news. She is pushed by her editor to seek concrete proof for a story concerning payments for false documents – a practice which breaks all journalistic codes of ethics – “as if truth were so hard in that way, like rocks and concrete”. In Iraq it is rarely so.
As Sam single-mindedly pursues this story, she discovers a chasm between her editor’s expectations and the reality she faces in a city torn apart by war and conflicting loyalties. And in her determination to uncover the truth, she takes one gamble too many, endangering herself, Nabil and his family.
Ilene Prusher was a staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor from 2000 to 2010, serving as bureau chief in Tokyo, Istanbul, and Jerusalem and covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is now an independent journalist based in Jerusalem, and also teaches Reporting Conflict for NYU-Tel Aviv.
After graduating from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1993, Ilene started her career as a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, later freelancing from the Middle East for Newsday, The New Republic, The Financial Times, The Guardian and The Observer.
Raised in New York, she now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and two children. Baghdad Fixer is her first novel.