Fareed is a commercial book printer in Baghdad during the Iraq war. As his business slowly deteriorates, he decides to print one last job – a book of poetry by Irfan Abrahim. What Fareed doesn’t know is Irfan died in the bombing of Al Mutanabbi Street (book market and cultural hub) in March 2007.
Nisreen Abid’s husband has been kidnapped. She needs more money to free her husband and a way to get to him. She wanders the bombed storefronts of Al Mutanabbi Street where she used to work waiting for the kidnappers to call. One afternoon Fareed shows up asking if anyone can help him find Irfan Abrahim so he can deliver his newly printed book.
Throughout the novel, Nisreen tricks Fareed into thinking they are looking for the elusive poet, Irfan Abrahim.
A second plotline follows an Iraqi interpreter working with the Coalition who is pressured to hear and see evidence that might not be there. The more the interpreter works with his Unit alongside one particularly manipulative soldier named Bill, the more he justifies the violence they inflict. He becomes increasingly paranoid. By the end of the novel, he is a changed man.
Nisreen and the interpreter’s worlds collide near the end of the book, and no one is sure who the real villain is. Though one thing is for certain, Irfan’s “last book of Baghdad” will change people’s lives in ways he never intended.