Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ten top books about Sudan

Jamal Mahjoub has been writing for longer than he cares to remember. His novels cover subjects as diverse as Sudan’s history and strife, heliocentricity, and explorations of identity. He has won the Prix de l’astrolabe in France, the NH Mario Vargas Llosa award in Spain, and the Guardian African Short Story prize.

Mahjoub was born in London and spent his formative years in Khartoum, Sudan. Since then he has settled in a number of cities, including London, Aarhus, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. His fiction and nonfiction have been critically acclaimed and widely translated. He has published six crime novels featuring private investigator Makana, using the pen name Parker Bilal.

His A Line in the River: Khartoum, City of Memory is the result of ten years writing and research. It documents the author’s return to the country where he grew up, exploring past and present in the light of Sudan’s dreams of independence, and ending with the 2011 break up of what was the largest country in Africa.

At the Guardian Mahjoub tagged ten top books about Sudan, including:
Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

The first book to spring to mind when people think of Sudanese literature. First published in Beirut in 1966, it is often hailed as a classic of modern Arabic literature. Salih’s novel remains an enigmatic work that is difficult to define. Lyrical descriptions of idyllic rural life beside the Nile, including ribald discussions about sex, compete with harsh accounts of London. In some ways a reversal of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Salih’s character travels to Europe and discovers the dark heart of his soul there. It remains one of the most enigmatic works of post-colonial fiction.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue