Thursday, January 26, 2012

Read Your Way Around the World - Sudan

Read Your Way Around the World invites you to Sudan. Sudan is a large and ethnically diverse country with Arabic as the dominant language and a long history of conflict and civil war.

Mansour El Souwain who contributed to Beirut 39: new writing from the Arab world (M) has some interesting things to say in this interview about the relatively new concept of the Sudanese novel and its origin in a rich oral and narrative poetry tradition.

Sudanese writer Leila Aboulela tells the story of the wealthy Abuzeid family in Lyrics Alley (M). Sudan is on the brink of massive change as British rule comes to an end. The family fortune seems and secure and comfortable until their beloved eldest son Nur is seriously injured. Nur channels his disappointment into a creative career as a poet. Just as the country itself is changing, the Abuzeid family finds itself divided between traditional and progressive values. A family saga told from multiple perspectives.

Wilbur Smith was an early favourite author for me. Wilbur Smith's novels are fast-paced, adventurous and often follow a family through multiple generations. Two of his families, the Courteneys and the Ballantynes, are featured in The Triumph of the Sun (M). The action in this violent and maybe even melodramatic story centers around the Siege of Khartoum, a bloody event in Sudanese history.

Moving to modern times, Acts of Faith (M) by Philip Caputo is set against the Sudanese civil wars. The novel tells the story of aid workers whose actions, though well intentioned on the surface, are designed to further their own causes as well as those of the locals. This is a novel with a huge cast of characters that tells a really big story.

The Four Feathers (M) by A.E.W. Mason is a classic much-filmed novel about honour and courage set in 1882 England and Sudan. Harry Feversham, a British officer, resigns his commission out of fear that he will prove himself a coward. His fellow officers and fiance give him white feathers to symbolize his cowardice. In order to redeem himself he travels to Sudan and plays an heroic role in this classic adventure story.

Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih tells the story of two Sudanese men who were both educated in England in Season of Migration to the North (M). They meet in a small village in Sudan and are drawn together by their similar experiences. Season of Migration to the North is a literary novel which deals with the clash between cultures and traditions.

God Grew Tired of Us (M) is the arresting title of John Del Dau's book about his experience of being one of Sudan's "Lost Boys". In this memoir he describes how he was forced from his village and separated from his family in 1987 as a result of the civil war. We read about harrowing escapes, the terrible conditions in refugee camps and ultimately his resettlement in the US which allows Dau, ultimately, to return to Sudan and reunite with his family.

1 comment:

  1. Hello there,such a great writing with amazing reviews.Acts of Faith is a novel,yet immovably established in the surreal realities of modern-day Sudan.Caputo,a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist,composed it in the wake of being on task for National Geographic Adventure magazine.He made a phenomenal showing of catching the Sudanese dynamic,including the odd reverberations set in movement by good natured if uncritical Fbos and Ngos.It's an extraordinary read,as well.Thank you so much.@Tina Long.