A Hundred and One Days by Asne Seierstad Virago $96 From the Norwegian author of the best-selling Bookseller of Kabul comes another excursion into what passes for ordinary life in Iraq. The 101 days refer to the time she spent there before, during and after the war. Her enchantment with Baghdad soon vanishes in the face of a society drained of soul by Saddam Hussein's brutality. Her search for old Baghdad is continually thwarted by Comical Ali and his cohorts at the Ministry of Information, who refuse all her requests for permission to explore with: 'What do you want to do there? It's just like every other place.' She reminds us of how appalling conditions were under Hussein. 'Iraq is a kingdom of fear,' says one resident. 'For one single, disastrous word, you can go to prison for 20 years; for a disastrous word spoken to a foreigner, you can disappear altogether.'