The Drowning

The Drowning

Publishing House: Interlink Books

Publication Year: 2022

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 170

Hammour Ziada’s novel “The Drowning” presents a poignant exploration of a small Sudanese town, Hajar Narti, set against the backdrop of a military coup that engulfed Khartoum in 1968. In this richly woven narrative, translated by Paul Starkey, the Nile River plays a central role, acting as a giver and taker of life for the town’s inhabitants.

The discovery of a dead body in the Nile unfolds in Hajar Narti, a familiar event for its residents. Abd Al-Razeq, spotting the corpse first, alerts others at Fayit Niddu’s tea shack.

Interweaving various characters’ lives, the narrative reflects the socio-political turbulence of their time. Ahmad Shigrib, a communist and medical assistant, Fayit Niddu, a former slave, and Hajj Bashir from a prominent family, embody the town’s diverse social fabric. Their lives, marked by political unrest, sectarian strife, and personal struggles, mirror the turbulence of the Nile’s waters.

Resilience Amidst Chaos

Amidst these events, Abd Al-Hafez Al-Badri’s henna party proceeds, emphasizing life’s resilience amidst the chaos. The novel delves into the community’s dynamics, highlighting residents’ attempts to navigate and make sense of their changing world.

Complex Societal Realities

“The Drowning” is not just a story of a town by the Nile; it reflects the complex societal structures and the myriad human experiences within them. It sheds light on forced marriages, sexual violence, and the oppression faced by many women in such closely-knit communities. Ziada’s minimalist yet powerful prose brings to life vivid characters and stark realities, leaving readers with a profound understanding of the intricate social fabric of rural Sudanese life.

The novel’s nonlinear narrative adds to its complexity, creating a mosaic of lives and stories that intertwine and diverge like the Nile itself. Fatima, waiting by the riverbank for her long-lost daughter, embodies the enduring human spirit amidst adversity in Ziada’s narrative. “The Drowning” is a testament to the enduring legacy of Sudan’s social and cultural landscape, painted with the delicate strokes of Ziada’s masterful storytelling.

Read More About Hammour Ziada

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