"Just when you think that nothing in the overcrowded crime field can surprise you any more, along comes a writer like Elliott Colla who takes the genre by the throat and shakes it vigorously. Baghdad Central is a rich and allusive piece of writing, informed by the writer's experience in both the Middle East and Washington. Its authenticity is matched by a masterly command of the mechanics of suspense." Barry Forshaw, Crime Time "This is an intense and well-written novel. The chaos and cacophony of the American occupation are captured vividly." Sinan Antoon
Elliott Colla divides his time between Washington DC and the Middle East. This is his first novel. He teaches Arabic literature at Georgetown University. He has translated much contemporary Arabic literature, including: Ibrahim Aslan's novel, The Heron, Idris Ali's Poor, Ibrahim al-Koni's Gold Dust, and Rabai al-Madhoun's The Lady from Tel Aviv, winner of English PEN award.He is also co-editor of the e-zine, Jadaliyya.
Baghdad, November 2003. The US occupation is not yet a disaster but the CPA has disbanded the Iraqi army and decimated the police in its policy of de-Ba'athification of Iraqi society. Inspector Muhsin al-Khafaji is a mid-level Iraqi cop who deserted his post back in April. Khafaji has lived long enough in pre- and post-Saddam Iraq to know that clinging on to anything but poetry and his daughter, Mrouj, is asking for trouble. Nabbed by the Americans and imprisoned in Abu Ghraib, Khafaji is offered only one way out - he has to work for the CPA to rebuild the Iraqi Police Services. But it's only after US forces take Mrouj that he figures out a way to make his collaboration palatable, and even rewarding. Soon, he is investigating the disappearance of young translators working for the US Army.