Silence Is My Mother Tongue

Sulaiman Addonia. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-64445-033-8
Addonia (The Consequences of Love) chronicles the lives of two siblings in a Sudanese refugee camp in his darkly poetic second novel. At the center is a young woman named Saba, whom the reader glimpses through the eyes of various other characters. The first of these is close friend Jamal, who has fashioned a makeshift theater in the camp using a bedsheet. At the book’s outset, Saba is about to be placed on trial by a “court” administered in the camp for the spurious charge of incest with her mute older brother, Hagos. The remainder of the novel consists of short, loosely arranged flashbacks and occasional returns to the present narrative. Saba is inseparable from Hagos, and her circle also includes a fearful mother; a menacing character known only as “the midwife”; and Saba’s confidante, Zahra, with whom she shares poetry and her deepest hopes. A businessman named Tedros arrives with his son, Eyob, and wagging camp tongues conjecture that Tedros plans to marry Saba, who is heartened when Eyob befriends Hagos. Against a background of desperation, poverty, and constant abuse, Saba dreams of education, escape, and a life free from oppression. The author maintains a strong voice with vibrant lyrical imagery, but the shuffled structure and murky chronology can puzzle more than enlighten. Still, Addonia casts a consistent spell on the reader. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 09/09/2020
Release date: 09/08/2020
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-9996833-2-0
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