Passage of Tears by Abdourahman A. Waberi
(Seagull Books - The Africa List)

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Djibouti, a hot, impoverished little country on the Horn of Africa, is a place of great strategic importance, for off its coast lies a crucial passage for the world’s oil. In this novel by Abdourahman A. Waberi, Djibril, a young Djiboutian voluntarily exiled in Montreal, returns to his native land to prepare a report for an American economic intelligence firm. Meanwhile, a shadowy, threatening figure imprisoned in an island cell seems to know Djibril’s every move. He takes dictation from his preaching cellmate known as his “Venerable Master,” but as the words are put on the page, a completely different text appears—the life of Walter Benjamin, Djibril’s favorite author. Passage of Tears cleverly mixes many genres and forms of writing—spy novel, political thriller, diary (replete with childhood memories), travel notebook, legends, parables, incantations, and prayers. Djibril’s reminiscences provide a sense of Djibouti’s past and its people, while a satire of Muslim fundamentalism is unwittingly delivered through the other Djiboutian voice. Waberi’s inventive parody is a lesson in tolerance, while his poetic observations reveal his love and concern for his homeland. Praise for the French Edition “Disguised as a political thriller, Passage of Tears is above all a great novel of childhood, murderous identities, and exile.”—Le Monde des Livres “A gripping book, burning with urgency and tension.”—Télérama.


About Abdourahman A. Waberi

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The French-Djiboutian novelist, poet, and essayist Abdourahman A. Waberi is one of the leading francophone writers of his generation. His other books include The Land Without Shadow, Harvest of Skulls, and Rifts, Roads and Rails. Together or separately, David and Nicole Ball have published nine book-length translations, most recently Waberi's In the United States of Africa.
Published February 15, 2012 by Seagull Books. 216 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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The eponymous passage (“the strait that separates the Arabian peninsula from Africa”) lies near Djibouti, the former homeland of Djibril, a 29-year-old man returned, post-9/11, to make “sure the country is secure, the situation stable, and the terrorists under control.” In the employ of a...

Oct 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Passage of Tears (Seagull Boo...

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