Six books about Sudan by Sudanese writers

Check out some of these celebrated books to add to your bookshelves

Tarek Eltayeb was born to Sudanese parents in Egypt. His novel Cities Without Palms was a critically acclaimed success.

by Staff Reporter

Culture 18 May 2019

Most of you may have noticed that Sudan has been on the news a lot lately. What we are seeing are the peaceful protests of a people want change. People with voices, opinions, and stories.

But how much do we know about the stories of Sudan written by her people?

We’ve collected six  books that describe six very different experiences of Sudan by Sudanese writers.

Cities without Palms, Tarek Eltayeb

The novel follows the life of a young Sudanese man, Hamza who leaves his village for the city to work and make money in order to provide for his mother and sister.

On his journey for security for himself and his family, Hamza travels further away from home, from Sudan to Egypt, where he joins a band of smugglers, and then to Europe―Italy, France, Holland―where he experiences the reality of being a migrant laborer and the risks of  being an illegal immigrant.

Through Hamza’s experience the reader gets  a glimpse and understanding of poverty in both the developed and the developing world and one man’s search for a better life.

The Minaret, Leila Aboulela

The story follows the journey of Najwa, an upper-class secular Westernized Sudanese in 1984 living in luxury and privilege. The story moves back and forth through time and quickly we see that twenty-years later, Najwa is working as a maid in London.

Thought provoking and heartbreaking, we follow Najwa as she and her family are politically exiled to London where after many more blows to her family, she seeks companionship in the Muslim community.

The drama is heightened and Najwa’s desires and dreams are put the test when she meets Tamer, the lost younger brother of her employer. Slowly they form an intense connection based on faith, respect and love.

Thirteen Months of Sunrise, Rania Mamoun

Rania Mamoun’s debut collection has received widespread praise by how she flawlessly melds reality and fiction to create the unique and lively world that is contemporary Sudan.

Through interconnected stories set within urban life we learn about friendship, relationships, loneliness and everything that is human.

Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih

Set in 1960s, the young narrator Mustafa  returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan after living in Europe and is keen to  help change new postcolonial life of his country.

But on returning home he finds that he’s a stranger among people he once knew. He starts retelling his years in Europe  to a confidant, from his career to relationships with European women that led to a public scene that forces his return to Sudan.

Then one day  Mustafa disappears and the confidant is left confused and unsettled and forced to deal with the aftermath of what Mustafa has told him.

The Grub Hunter, Amir Tag Elsir

A former secret service agent, Abdallah Harfash wants to be a writer after losing his leg and his job. His dream takes him on a quite the journey filled with bizarre situations and interesting, fleshed out, strange characters.

Through humor and nuance, Tag Elsir explores themes of trauma and identity in a way that leaves the reader thinking about fate.

The Translator, Daoud Hari

The Translatoris the true story of Daoud Hari. It his memoir of the genocide in Darfur.

In 2003, Daoud was a Zaghawa tribesman, and one of the hundreds of thousands of villagers attacked and driven from his homes by Sudanese-government-backed militia groups.

HIs village was burned to the ground, his family killed or dispersed while he escaped and eventually finding work as a translator and guide. But through his work he returns to where it all started and has the chance to tell the story of his people and what happened to them.

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