One Hundred and One Nights: A Novel
Back Bay Books/Little Brown & Company
Hachette Book Group
After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla’s stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settles into the city’s rhythm and begins rebuilding his life. But two sudden developments–his alliance with a powerful merchant and his employment of a hot-headed young assistant–reawaken painful memories, and not even Layla may be able to save Abu Saheeh from careening out of control and endangering all around them.
I originally found out about this author and this book from an article in a local newspaper. The author is from a town about 25 miles from me and when I read the synopsis above of the story I knew I just had to get a copy.
Abu Saheeh has a routine to each day and Layla interrupts that routine. As the story continues we get a better understanding of the routine and the pressures he is facing. Trying to rebuild his life and forgetting about his past is no easy task.
The story starts out slowly and builds and builds with several unexpected twists. Through the use of flashbacks we learn not only about Abu Saheeh but about the people of Iraq and the way the country has changed. How the past effects the present and the future. The metamorphosis that has taken place due to the ravages of war. Things you can never understand without being there physically, but Buchholz does his best to take us there with his talent of brilliant storytelling. The blowing sand fills every crack and crevice, the convoys of Humvees and transport trucks is unending, the devastation is right before your eyes as you walk through the marketplace. You will be deeply affected by this story. It is heart wrenching and is truly unforgettable.
Benjamin Buchholz is an amazing writer to bring this story to fruition just from his experience during his one-year deployment in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard and his continuing studies. His insights into these situations are astounding. He brings Abu Saheeh and Layla to life in an remarkable way. His words share with us the story that goes untold. Life in a place most of will only see on television and then highly edited. I can’t believe this is his first novel.
I understand he is at work on his next novel and I am anxiously awaiting it. This is definitely an author to watch!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”