Saturday, February 8, 2020

Louise Callaghan's "Father of Lions"

Louise Callaghan is the Middle East correspondent for the Sunday Times (UK).

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to Father of Lions: One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo, her first book, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Father of Lions jumps to a scene where the animals are being delivered to Mosul Zoo - which is at that point under Isis occupation. Abu Laith, the would-be zookeeper, is watching them arrive. He's wanted by Isis, and can't go into the zoo to look after the animals because he could be arrested. Snakes, Shetland ponies and Abu Laith's pet lion - Zombie - are all at risk of neglect because there's no one really looking after them in the zoo. Abu Laith is really worried.

It's an interesting point in the book to land at, because it's a point of tension where Abu Laith is deciding how he's going to keep the animals alive. He knows he can't go to the zoo himself, but can't see any other options. Soon after this, he comes up with a plan that sets a whole new chain of events in motion: he recruits a spy to look after the animals and report back to him.

Page 99 gives a good insight into Abu Laith, the book's main character, and his relationship with the zoo. But of course it misses some key elements of the story - particularly the terrible way that Isis treated local people in Mosul.
Learn more about Father of Lions, and follow Louise Callaghan on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue