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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Book Launch - The Watermelon Boys

4th October 2018, 16:00 to 17:00, A56, Elvet Riverside I

Ruqaya Izzidien (a former MLAC student) will present her novel, The Watermelon Boys, on 4th October 2018 at 4-5pm, in A56.

The event is organised by Adam Talib with the support of Living Texts.

About The Watermelon Boys:

It is the winter of 1915 and Iraq has been engulfed by the First World War. Hungry for independence from Ottoman rule, Ahmad leaves his peaceful family life on the banks of the Tigris to join the British-led revolt.

Thousands of miles away, Welsh teenager Carwyn reluctantly enlists and is sent, via Gallipoli and Egypt, to the Mesopotamia campaign. Carwyn's and Ahmad's paths cross, and their fates are bound together. Both are forever changed, not only by their experience of war, but also by the parallel discrimination and betrayal they face.

Ruqaya Izzidien's evocative debut novel is rich with the heartbreak and passion that arise when personal loss and political zeal collide, and offers a powerful retelling of the history of British intervention in Iraq.

About the Author:

Ruqaya Izzidien is an Iraqi-Welsh freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the New Statesman, the BBC, Al Jazeera and the New York Times. Since graduating from Durham University she has lived and worked in Cairo and the Gaza Strip. She is currently living and working in Morocco.

Ruqaya studied at Durham between 2005 and 2009. She was the university’s Race Awareness Officer for 2006-2007 and represented it at the Black Students’ Conference.

Commentary on The Watermelon Boys:

Media Diversified: “Ruqaya Izzidien portrays every character, every situation, and each decision crossroads with deft touches of compassion and vulnerability that amplify the intensity in the scenes of cruelty and terror. There are no saints here.” -

The National: “Ruqaya Izzidien forces the reader to confront the impact of European intervention in the Middle East, and masterfully so.” -

For further information please contact Adam Talib