It is 1968, and young Azad lives with his family in a small village in Iraqi Kurdistan. He clambers onto rooftops to watch his cousin's champion trained pigeons, devours pomegranates in his mother's garden and is in awe of his father's polished old Czech rifle. His uncle buys the neighbourhood's first television and Azad marvels at the miracle of the flickering images but wonders why all of the programmes are in Arabic and none of them show any Kurds. Azad's peaceful rural life is shattered when his cousin Mamou is hunted down and shot by the government militia. The family escapes to a cave in the hills where they are bombarded from the air by napalm. Returning home, they find their house has been razed to the ground and their orchard destroyed. To defend his family and homeland, Azad's father picks up his old rifle and joins the resistance. But the whole family is captured and forced into refugee camps as their lands are stolen and their culture forbidden.
Hiner Saleem was born in Iraq and fled the country when he was seventeen years old. He is an acclaimed film director whose Vodka Lemon won the Venice Film Festival's San Marco Prize in 2002. He lives in Paris. My Father's Rifle, published by Atlantic Books in 2005, has been translated into more than twenty languages.