The Book of Khartoum

Translated by Thoraya El-Rayyes, Raph Cormack, Mohammed Ghalayeini, Sarah Irving, Elisabeth Jaquette, Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Andrew Leber, Max Shmookler, and Adam Talib.

Khartoum, according to one theory, takes its name from the Beja word hartooma, meaning ‘meeting place’. Geographically, culturally and historically, the Sudanese capital is certainly that: a meeting place of the Blue and White Niles, a confluence of Arabic and African histories, and a destination point for countless refugees displaced by Sudan’s long, troubled history of forced migration.

In the pages of this book – the first major anthology of Sudanese stories to be translated into English – the city also stands as a meeting place for ideas: where the promise and glamour of the big city meets its tough social realities; where traces of a colonial past are still visible in day-to-day life; where the dreams of a young boy, playing in his father’s shop, act out a future that may one day be his. Diverse literary styles also come together here: the political satire of Ahmed al-Malik; the surrealist poetics of Bushra al-Fadil; the social realism of the first postcolonial authors; and the lyrical abstraction of the new ‘Iksir’ generation. As with any great city, it is from these complex tensions that the best stories begin.


"An exciting, long-awaited collection showcasing some of Sudan's finest writers. There is urgency behind the deceptively languorous voices and a piercing vitality to the shorter forms. These writers lay claim over the contradictions and fusions of the capital city - Nile and drought, urbanization and village ties, what is African and what is Arab." 
- Leila Aboulela

One of World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2016

Listen to The Book of Khartoum discussed on BBC World Service Programme, The 5th Floor  (5 Aug 2016)

'The Book of Khartoum suggests Sudanese literature is in rude health. By turns funny and tragic, insightful and surreal, these deftly-translated tales illuminate, disturb and, perhaps most importantly, entertain. Seek out at once.'  James Kidd, The National 

'...includes ten aesthetically experimental, sophisticated, and vital stories about the city of Khartoum.' Raphael Cormack (Editor) Free Word Centre

'This collection of deeply affecting stories, often exquisitely translated, can only be a welcome addition to that continuing exposure (of Sudanese literature).' The Manchester Review

'The short stories have a cohesive quality to them, each one a compliment to the other in its own way, each one the brush stroke of a larger picture.' Bookmunch

'The stories in The Book of Khartoum have energy, humour and vividness of expression.' Susannah Tarbush, The Tanjara

Read an interview with The Book of Khartoum editor Raphael Cormack in The Rumpus 

'This is the way it goes in ‘The Book of Khartoum’, stories in which the city is a character – a deeply affecting, vulnerable, exasperating and glorious entity.' The News Hub

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Book Details

28 Apr 2016