Ebola ’76

Publishing House: Darf Publishers

Publication Year: 2017

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 144

“Ebola ’76” by Amir Tag Elsir is a satirical and somewhat macabre take on the first major Ebola outbreak that struck the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan in the scorching summer of 1976. This novel blends dark humor with tragedy, tracing the deadly path of the Ebola virus as it ravages an unsuspecting population. The story revolves around Lewis, a Sudanese factory worker who inadvertently carries the virus from Kinshasa to Sudan, following a romantic encounter. The narrative vividly paints the lives of Lewis and his acquaintances – their loves, work, and the vibrant yet chaotic urban African backdrop.

The book, translated by Chris Bredin and Emily Danby, offers a unique fictional perspective on the 1976 Ebola outbreak in Sudan. Tag Elsir, a writer and medical doctor, employs humor to deal with the grim reality of the disease, a coping mechanism often seen in medical professionals. The story unfolds in a free-flowing manner, starting with the death of Lewis Nawa’s mistress and then abruptly introducing various characters and events. The narrative style is reminiscent of Jonas Jonasson’s “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared,” albeit with a darker tone.

In “Ebola ’76,” the virus itself is almost a character – depicted as a cunning and gleeful entity orchestrating a deadly dance. This dance macabre leads an array of unfortunate souls to their demise, including characters like the blind guitarist Ruwadi, the failed magician Jamadi, and others. Despite the array of characters, Tag Elsir’s apparent lack of empathy for them creates a detachment, leaving readers somewhat indifferent to their fates. While empathy is a natural response to such catastrophic events, its absence in the narrative might leave readers uneasy. The novel challenges conventional approaches to storytelling, particularly in dealing with topics of horror and tragedy, providing an unconventional yet striking portrayal of a historical health crisis.

Read More About Amir Tag Elsir

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