My Father's RifleHiner Saleem
10 February 2005
Published by Atlantic Books
My Father’s Rifle is a beautiful narrative about the life of boy named Azad and his coming-of-age in Iraq during the 1960s and 1970s. Azad is born into a vibrant village culture, to a family that is proud of its Kurdish past. He loves his mother’s orchard, his cousin’s stunt pigeons, his father’s old Czech rifle, and his brother who is away fighting in the mountains. But before he is even of school age, Azad has experienced strafing and bombing, he watches as friends and neighbours are assassinated and he sees his father humiliated when he tried to get food for his starving family.
Forced into a refugee camp in Iran for years, the family returns to find Saddam Hussein in power, and destroying the autonomy he had promised their people. In a burst of adolescent rebellion, Azad briefly runs away to the mountains to join his brother in the fight for Kurdish liberty. But Azad returns, sensing he must find his own way to advance the Kurdish cause. He realizes that in order to achieve his dreams of becoming a filmmaker, he must flee to Syria and leave behind the family and land he loves so much.