Naked in the Swamp by Mohammad Saeed Habashi
Comprised of twenty-one short stories, Naked in the Swamp is short on depth. Mohammad Saeed Habashi shares a wide variety of characters, storylines and types of fictional short stories in this compilation, but there is little to grab or keep a readers attention. From the get-go in Stars of the Port, the disjointed feel to Habashi’s writing is glaringly loud. This first story displays what one can expect through the rest of the book as the scenes are hard to follow and they leap from one timeframe to another without coherence. The story entitled, Naked in the Swamp, is particularly disappointing as it is the actual title of the book, too. In this story, a woman has finally arrived to a new place with her young child apparently safe and sound. Then she begins to “fantasize” about another situation. However, at the end of this story, as her daughter finds her lying flat on the ground and most likely dead, there is little to no transition in the story as to how this happens. Finally, the author incorporates the idea of the swamp in the last line, “She was a lonely, helpless girl who was drawn in the life swamp.”
Though Mohammad Saeed Habashi’s stories may offer an opportunity for a reader to ponder deeper concepts around each story, there is often so much confusion and unimportant, unnecessary pieces dropped in that one is not apt to keep turning pages. Also, Naked in the Swamp is written in English, but clearly English is not the author’s first language. This leads to further challenges as there is a language barrier. A number of phrases or words simply don’t make sense in the way it is written, such as “pair of bikini.” If these stories were to be rewritten with the guidance of an editor with English as a first language, Naked in the Swamp might have potential. The way it stands, Mohammad Saeed Habashi has failed in his attempt to share fascinating fiction. Instead, Naked in the Swamp will only pull a reader’s interest slowly and painfully under the deep murky waters…not to resurface.
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