The site of Abu Saheed's new mobile phone and satellite dish shop in the southern Iraqi town of Safwan allows a prime view of the highway overpass used by the passing American military convoys, which he tracks daily. Although he hasn't been in town or in business long, his life seems to have taken on a routine in just weeks: days in the marketplace, dinners at an old friend's restaurant and nights alone in his unfinished house. That new routine is unsettled when a local girl begins visiting him in the evenings as he's closing the shop.
But things aren't what they seem. Through use of flashback, foreshadowing and stream of consciousness, One Hundred and One Nights unwinds the story of an Iraqi physician who returns home to Baghdad after years of study and medical practice in Chicago, believing he could help his country rebuild after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Now, renaming himself "Father Truth," he stays in an isolated southern town selling mobile phones as a cover for a mission of destruction. That mission isn't what it seems, either. As the story builds, the reader begins to question the reliability of the narrator and the reality of his situation, adding to the dramatic tension as the flashbacks and the present converge.
Benjamin Buchholz's unit of the Wisconsin National Guard was deployed to Iraq in 2005, and he and his family have remained in the Middle East. His assumption of an Iraqi voice and viewpoint, and his depiction of native characters, settings and customs are informed and convincing. One Hundred and One Nights is an absorbing, affecting and beautifully written first novel. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's Blog: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness