Last Girl (Murad)

The Last Girl:  My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State 
Nadia Murad, 2017
320 pp.

In this intimate memoir of survival, a former captive of the Islamic State tells her harrowing and ultimately inspiring story.
Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon.

On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended.

Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves.

Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade. 
Nadia would be held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped and beaten.

Finally, she managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety.
Today, Nadia's story—as a witness to the Islamic State's brutality, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi—has forced the world to pay attention to the ongoing genocide in Iraq. It is a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive, and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio

Nadia Murad Basee Taha is a Yazidi human rights activist from Iraq, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations (UNODC). She was kidnapped and held by the Islamic State in August 2014. On 1 June 2017, she returned to her home village of Kocho after three years.

Murad was born in the village of Kocho in Sinjar, Iraq. Her family, of the Yazidi ethno-religious minority, were farmers. At the age of 19, Murad was a student living in the village of Kocho in Sinjar, northern Iraq when Islamic State fighters rounded up the Yazidi community in the village killing 600 people, including six of Nadia's brothers and stepbrothers. The younger women, including Murad, were taken into slavery — more than 6,700.

She was held as a slave in the city of Mosul, beaten, burned with cigarettes, and raped when trying to escape. Nadia was able to escape after her captor left the house unlocked. She was taken in by a neighbouring family who were able to smuggle her out of the Islamic State controlled area, allowing her to make her way to a refugee camp in Duhok, northern Iraq.

In February 2015, she gave her first testimony to reporters of the Belgian daily La Libre Belgique while she was staying in the Rwanga camp, living in a container. In 2015, she was one of 1.000 women and children to benefit from a refugee programme of the Government of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, which became her new home.

In December, 2015, Murad briefed the United Nations Security Council on the issue of human trafficking and conflict — it the first time the Council was ever briefed on human trafficking. As part of her role as an ambassador, Murad will participate in global and local advocacy initiatives to bring awareness of human trafficking and refugees. Murad reaches out to refugee and survivor communities, listening to testimonies of victims of trafficking and genocide.

As of September 2016, Attorney Amal Clooney spoke before the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to discuss the decision that she had made in June 2016 to represent Murad as a client in legal action against ISIL commanders. Clooney characterized the genocide, rape, and trafficking by ISIL as a "bureaucracy of evil on an industrial scale", describing it as a slave market existing both online, on Facebook and in the Mideast that is still active today.[10] Murad has received serious threats to her safety as a result of her work.

In September 2016, Murad announced Nadia's Initiative at an event hosted by Tina Brown in New York City. The initiative will provide advocacy and assistance to victims of genocide.

In 2017, Murad met Pope Francis and Archbishop Gallagher in the Vatican City. During the meeting she "asked for helping Yazidis who are still in ISIS captivity, acknowledged the Vatican support for minorities, discussed the scope for an autonomous region for minorities in Iraq, highlighted the current situation and challenges facing religious minorities in Iraq and Syria particularly the victims and internally displaced people as well as immigrants."

Her memoir, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, was published in 2017.(From Wikipedia. Retrieved 1/18/2018 .)

Book Reviews
The Last Girl is difficult to process. It is a call to action, but as it places Murad’s tragedy in the larger narrative of Iraqi history and American intervention, it leaves the reader with urgent, incendiary questions: What have we done, and what can we do?
Anna Della Subin - New York Times Book Review

Murad gives us a window on the atrocities that destroyed her family and nearly wiped out her vulnerable community. This is a courageous memoir that serves as an important step toward holding to account those who committed horrific crimes.
Washington Post

This devastating memoir unflinchingly recounts Murad’s experiences and questions the complicity of witnesses who acquiesced in the suffering of others.
The New Yorker

Her book is sobering—and an inspiration.

This is likely the most inspiring feminist memoir out this year.

Nadia Murad's courageous account is horrific and essential reading. . . . Anyone who wants to understand the so-called Islamic State should read The Last Girl.
Economist (Uk)

Surpassingly valuable.… With her new book, The Last Girl, Nadia Murad has assumed the stature of an Elie Wiesel for her people.… As much as it is an account of the Yazidi genocide, the book is also a loving ode to a way of life that has now been all but obliterated.
Jewish Journal

A harrowing and brave book, a testament to human resilience.

(Starred review.) Human rights activist Murad recounts her captivity in Iraq as a sabiya, or sex slave, held by ISIS in this brilliant and intense memoir.… This book is a clear-eyed account of ISIS’s cruelty and the devastation caused by the war in Iraq.
Publishers Weekly

In 2014, ISIS swept through Iraq, bringing death and destruction to the Yazidis people, a Kurdish religious minority.… [A] rare glimpse into the rich culture of the Yazidi. Her memoir is powerful and heart-breaking and will inspire the world to action. —Heidi Uphoff, Sandia National Laboratories, NM
Library Journal

[R]aw, terrifying.… With vivid detail and genuine, heartbreaking emotion, the author lays bare not only her unimaginable tragedy, but also the tragedies of an entire people…. A devastating yet ultimately inspiring memoir that doubles as an urgent call to action.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for The Last Girl … then take off on our own:

1. Discuss the ancient Yazidi religion with its creation myths, visions of afterlife, and its various customs. How did Nadia Murad's faith help sustain her during her ordeal?

2. Talk about the treatment of the Yazidi people throughout history, including the many occurrences of genocide. Why have Yazidis been the object of persecution? In fact, why has religious sectarianism— throughout history—been so virulent and led to such violence?

3. How did the Yazidi's lives improve with the initial 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. How did it worsen after the dismantling of the Baathist institutions?

4. ONce she escapee, Murad was required by the Kurd officials to testify, and despite assurances of privacy, the tape was made public. "I was quickly learning," she observed, "that my story, which I still thought of as a personal tragedy, could be someone else’s political tool." What were the Kurd officials hoping to achieve by airing the tape, and in what way did it endanger Nasser and his family?

5. What tricky issues did/does Murad face in publishing such an incendiary, if not sensational, book?

6. Follow-up to Question 5: Murad's story is almost too much to bear. Yet she was only one among thousands of women who suffered at the hands of ISIS. How important is it for us to read The Last Girl? Do you feel hopeless after reading it—or does it give you hope that her story has come to light?

7. Murad expresses fury and bafflement at the way families carried on with their normal lives under ISIS while all around them Yazidi women were subjected to horrific treatment. Where else have we heard similar reports of apathy in the face of atrocity? Is it human nature? Is it fear? Why are we so prone to ignore the horrors that take place under our noses?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

top of page (summary)

Site by BOOM Boom Supercreative

LitLovers © 2020