Walking with Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah

Anna Badkhen. Riverhead, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59463-248-8
After years as a war correspondent, Badkhen (The World Is a Carpet) came to Mali in 2013 to live with the nomadic Fulani as they walk across Mali’s savannah. This lyrical account of that journey eloquently describes the culture of the Fulani and is laced with ethereal sketches that reflect transitions in the author’s life at the time. Badkhen combines journalistic observation with deep feeling as she grows to respect and then love the clan led by patriarch Oumarou. At first, her observations are refracted by her own emotional experience. “Every footfall begets a separation.... To spend a lifetime walking away. To bid farewell over and over...” However, as the year of herding the cattle across Africa progresses, Badkhen learns that the Fulani see their journey as a circle. The outside world intrudes in the form of unconnected cell phones that the boys use for music and videos. Overhead, French military planes go to bomb the rebels. But Oumarou leads his family through the timeworn route. The Fulani are individuals, not archetypes. Their journey is both beautiful and difficult. Soon the author believes that she will find no epiphany, only “stronger legs, skin sore from the sun, and thicker calluses.” But she does find respite, which she tenderly renders in this exquisitely written book. Agent: Felicia Eth, Felicia Eth Literary Representation. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/15/2015
Release date: 08/04/2015
Compact Disc - 978-1-5046-1757-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5046-4809-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5046-1755-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-5046-1756-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-399-57601-0
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