*Shortlisted for the International Award for Arabic Fiction*
A beautiful poetic novel written by award winning Sudanese writer Amir Tag Elsir.
Translated by Raphael Cohen.
Khamila narrates her experience as a young woman living in Sur, a city which quickly transforms from a rich trading centre into a place of fear and murder at the hands of extremist oppressors. Home to a mixed community of Muslims, Copts, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Indians, Europeans and Africans, Sur is plunged into turmoil by an extremist revolution orchestrated by the Righteous one.
An obscure figure, the Righteous One is drawing followers from the poor and discontented to his jihad. Sur and all its communities represent the camp of apostasy and must be defeated. The city begins to prepare itself for the onslaught. Together with other young women, Khamila is led away to a house for female captives. Kept in seclusion and guarded by eunuchs, these women are instructed in the new faith and readied for marriage and sexual servitude. Despairing of rescue and determined to resist her fate, Khamila learns she is to be married off to the Righteous One himself. She appears to be rescued by one of the eunuchs, Lulu, but awakens from her dream, again and again, to find herself still a captive.
Despite its relative shortness, this poetic novel is rich in detail and characters, while the author projects contemporary horrors of sexual violence and slavery back into the past and fiercely criticizes today’s extremist ideologies.