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'Baghdad Diaries' author Nuha Al Radi dies in Beirut

Nuha Al Radi, an Iraqi artist but better known as an author who chronicled life in Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War and under sanctions, has died in Beirut at the age of 63, her family said yesterday.

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Nuha Al Radi, an Iraqi artist but better known as an author who chronicled life in Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War and under sanctions, has died in Beirut at the age of 63, her family said yesterday.

Al Radi died on Aug. 30 after a battle with leukemia, said her sister, Selma Al Radi.

Al Radi was buried in Lebanon, where relatives had lived since the 1970s. Al Radi had been in Lebanon off and on since the 1970s. She lived the last few years in Beirut, where she spent most of her time painting.

The last time she visited Iraq was in March last year, her sister said.

A painter and ceramist, Al Radi was best known for her book "Baghdad Diaries," a vivid account of daily life during the 1991 Gulf War and its aftermath. Written in English, the book first appeared in 1992 and was reissued last year shortly after the start of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

The diaries depicted the difficulties of day-to-day survival but also funny and macabre goings-on about town. The book won praise from the likes of the late literary scholar Edward W. Said, himself a passionate advocate of Arab causes. Publisher's Weekly called Al Radi's prose "powerful but not ostentatious," but took her to task for saying little about Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, which touched off the 1991 war and sanctions, while criticizing the U.S. bombardment.

"Nuha was also highly critical of the (2003) U.S.-led invasion of Iraq," her sister said.

Iraqi critic Ali Abdel Amir said her dairies reflected her "high sense of human feelings."

"She used her artistry to portray the sufferings of millions of Iraqis under war," Abdel Amir said of her book, speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from Amman, Jordan

Iraqi critic May Mudhafr, who also lives in Jordan, added Al Radi was a talented ceramic artist who "always surprised viewers with her ideas, which she derived from (Iraqi) heritage and turned into real beauty."

Al Radi had several pieces commissioned by the Iraqi government for government offices in Baghdad.

Even when Iraq was under sanctions for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Al Radi had a large studio at her home in Baghdad where she exhibited her work.

"She held many exhibitions in Baghdad, Beirut, London, Rome, Amman, Abu Dhabi and San`a," Selma Al Radi said.

She added that her sister used to think that her leukemia might have been caused by the U.S. bombardment of Iraq during the 1991 Gulf war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Iraqi government made similar charges, none confirmed, about the affects of war and sanctions.

Born in Baghdad in 1941, Al Radi never married.

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