Samira at home
 
Samira Al-Mana
سميرة المانع
Iraqi novelist and writer

 



 

 

 

The Umbilical Cord

حبل السرة

 

Iraq is known throughout the world as the invader of Kuwait in August 1990, and the loser in the so-called "Gulf War" that followed. Yet, outside Iraq itself, little is known of the country and the history that shaped it right up to those eventful months.

The Umbilical Cord, a novel published in 1999, goes a long way towards filling that gap. It is the story of two Arab women and their struggle to come to terms with exile from their native Iraq: Afaf, the pragmatist divorcee, and Madeha the widowed idealist. Confronting their situation in their contrasting ways, the two friends go through a variety of experiences, some bitter, some humorous. Effectively unable to return home, but aware that their characters are shaped by their country and its history, they feel tied to it as if by an umbilical cord.