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Transit (Global African Voices)by Abdourahman A. Waberi
Synopses & Reviews
Few of us have had the opportunity to visit Djibouti, the small crook of a country strategically located in the Horn of Africa, which makes The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out to Drink from the Big Dipper all the more seductive. In his first collection of poetry, the critically acclaimed writer Abdourahman A. Waberi writes passionately about his countrys landscape, drawing for us pictures of desert furrows of fire” and a yellow chameleon sky.” Waberis poems take us to unexpected spaces—in exile, in the muezzins call, and where morning dew is sucked up by the eye of the sun—black often, pink from time to time.”
Translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson, Waberis voice is intelligent, at times ironic, and always appealing. His poems strongly condemn the civil wars that have plagued East Africa and advocate tolerance and peace. In this compact volume, such ideas live side by side as a rosary for the treasures of Timbuktu, destroyed by Islamic extremists, and a poem dedicated to Edmond Jabès, the Jewish writer and poet born in Cairo.
With Waberi, the juxtapositions—surprising, provocative, and original—form a good part of the thrill themselves.”—Words Without Borders
In this first collection of poetry by critically acclaimed writer Abdourahman A. Waberi, we the readers can drink in Djiboutis compelling landscape—desert furrows of fire, mute foliage of cactus, yellow chameleon sky—to better understand this tiny country strategically located in the Horn of Africa. Waberis poems take us to spaces where nomadic words live—in exile, in the muezzins call, in a place where morning dew is sucked up by the eye of the sun—black often, pink from time to time.
Waberis voice is intelligent as well as ironic, and always appealing. He strongly condemns the civil wars that have plagued the East African region. His is a message of tolerance, and we find in this compact volume, living side by side, a rosary for the treasures of Timbuktu, destroyed by Islamic extremists, and a poem dedicated to Edmond Jabès, the Jewish writer and poet born in Cairo.
Waiting at the Paris airport, two immigrants from Djibouti reveal parallel stories of war, child soldiers, arms trafficking, drugs, and hunger. Bashir is recently discharged from the army and wounded, finding himself inside the French Embassy. Harbi, whose wife, Alice, has been killed by the police, is there too--arrested earlier as a political suspect. An embassy official mistakes Bashir for Harbi's son, and as Harbi does not deny it, both will be exiled to France, Alice's home country. This brilliantly shrewd and cynical universal chronicle of war and exile, translated into English for the first time, amounts to a lyrical and reflective history of Djibouti and its tortuous politics, crippled economy, and devastated moral landscape.
About the Author
Abdourahman A. Waberi is a novelist, essayist, poet, teacher, and short-story writer. Born in Djibouti, he now lives and writes in France. He is author of The Land without Shadows, In the United States of Africa, and Passage des larmes. Winner of the Stefan-Georg-Preis, the Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique noire, and the Prix biennal "Mandat pour la liberté," he was chosen one of the "50 Writers of the Future" by the French literary magazine Lire.
David Ball and Nicole Ball have previously translated Waberi's novel In the United States of Africa.
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