Past Event

"The Watermelon Boys" - Tasnim Qutait in conversation with author, Ruqaya Izzidien

May 17, 2021
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
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Monday, May 17
7:00 – 8:00 pm Amman
12:00 – 1:00 pm New York
Register here


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.



Ruqaya Izzidien is an Iraqi-Welsh writer. Her debut novel, The Watermelon Boys, received a Betty Trask Award for first-time novelists under 35. She served as the London Book Fair’s writer-in-residence in Sharjah, and contributed to Just So You Know (2020), a collection of essays from Welsh writers. As a journalist, her work has appeared in the New York Times, Al Jazeera, the New Statesman, The New Arab, The National, and BBC. She runs the blog, Muslim Impossible, which reviews inaccurate depictions of Arabs and Muslims in television, film, and literature.


Tasnim Qutait is a postdoctoral researcher at Uppsala University. Her research interests are in translation studies and world literature, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Her book, Nostalgia in Anglophone Arab Literature: Nationalism, Identity and Diaspora, was published in April 2021. She is currently writing a book on the cultural politics of security in the Arab diaspora.