Cinephilic Life-Writing in An Iraqi in Paris

Early in Samuel Shimon’s first-person autobiographical novel An Iraqi in Paris (‘Irāqī fī Bāris), the young author-narrator has left his hometown of Habbaniya, Iraq on the eve of Saddam Hussein’s military takeover of the country. A child pushcart vendor now in his early twenties, Shmuel harbors a rags-to-riches dream of traveling to the US and making it big as a Hollywood director. While he hails from a poor Assyrian Christian family, he is detained and tortured in Damascus, due in part to his Jewish name, on suspicion of being a Zionist spy.