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ENTERTAINMENT

Iraq blog on literary award list

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LONDON, England -- An anonymous Iraqi woman has been nominated for a major literary award for her Internet blog account of the impact of war on ordinary Iraqi people.

"Baghdad Burning" by a 20-something university graduate, who uses the pen name Riverbend, was among the titles announced Monday in the competition for the 30,000-pound ($52,000) Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

The prize -- the world's richest non-fiction award -- is open to writers of any nationality whose books are published in English.

The 19 finalists were whittled down from 168 entries. Other contenders include "Untold Stories" by Alan Bennett and "After The Victorians" by A.N. Wilson.

The prize winner will be announced at London's Savoy Hotel on June 14. Riverbend is not expected to attend.

The publishing house Marion Boyars -- which purchased the book tights to "Baghdad Burning" last year -- said it knows Riverbend's identity but respects her wish to remain anonymous.

Riverbend began the blog on August 17, 2003. "I'm female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war," she wrote at the time. "That's all you need to know. It's all that matters these days anyway."

She said she lost her job as a computer programmer after the U.S.-led invasion because it became too dangerous for Iraqi women to travel to and from their workplace alone in an increasingly lawless society.

Riverbend has also called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Her postings can found at www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com.

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