Thursday, March 30, 2006


I noticed Belgian television announcing that Iraqi blogger, Riverbend had been nominated for the Samuel Johnson award last night, as written up here in the Independent newspaper ... I felt so deeply sad.

Sad ...because little is known about the author of Baghdad Burning, who prefers to remain anonymous. The blog begins in September 2003 with the words: "I'm female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war. That's all you need to know. It's all that matters these days anyway."

Sad because life isn't improving, in fact her latest report shows things are becoming so much worse. A former computer programmer before the invasion, she lost her job as travel to and from her workplace became too dangerous. Instead she has chronicled her anger and fear in postings at Riverbend ... Baghdad Burning... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...

The Samuel Johnson award is one of the Britain's most prestigious literary awards and Riverbend has been longlisted for the £30,000 prize, alongside literary giants like Alan Bennett Last year, she won the 20,000euro third prize from the Lettre Ulysses Award. It is awarded to provide symbolic, moral and financial support for reporters whose courage, curiosity, and integrity drives them to create in-depth, well-researched texts, bringing unknown, forgotten, and hidden realities to light. The prize is also intended to publicly honor and highlight the extraordinary achievements of literary reportage. Furthermore, by facilitating the translation and publication of texts from often inaccessible places or languages, this project aims to focus attention on diverse topics and issues

I wonder what these literary honours mean to a woman living in a world gone mad...

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