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NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL: Blogger makes the longlist for award.

An anonymous "blog" by a young Iraqi woman has been nominated for the pounds 30,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

Baghdad Burning is a firsthand account of how the war has destroyed the lives of ordinary Iraqi citizens.

The author, a 20-something university graduate who writes on the internet under the pseudonym Riverbend, chronicles the "three years of occupation and bloodshed" the city has endured and calls for the withdrawal of US troops.

The resulting book has been longlisted for the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize, the world's richest non-fiction award.

The prize is open to writers of any nationality whose books are published in English.

Other contenders include Untold Stories by Alan Bennett, After The Victorians by AN Wilson and a biography of Mrs Beeton by Kathryn Hughes.

The winner will be announced at the Savoy Hotel in London on June 14 and will be broadcast live on BBC Four.

It is unlikely the author of Baghdad Burning will attend.

She began the blog in September 2003 with the words: "I'm female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war. That's all you need to know. It's all that matters these days anyway."

University-educated, she worked as a computer programmer before the invasion. She lost her job, she told readers, because it became too dangerous for Iraqi women to travel to and from their workplace alone in an increasingly lawless society.

Her postings at www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com chronicle her anger and fear at life in the new Iraq.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 27, 2006
Words:250
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