The Slave Yards


Publishing House: Syracuse University Press

Publication Year: 2020

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 302

Najwa Bin Shatwan’s novel ‘The Slave Yards’ unfolds in late nineteenth-century Benghazi, focusing on Atiqa, who was born to a black enslaved mother and her white master. In Benghazi, Atiqa encounters her cousin Ali, a married woman juggling two children and a job. This encounter unveils Atiqa’s heritage and her parents’ past. Through their shared stories, Atiqa and Ali unravel a poignant family history.

Central to the narrative is Atiqa’s early life in the slave yards outside Benghazi. Black Africans, brought to Libya as slaves, established these yards. Ali shares the tale of Tawida, Atiqa’s mother, who endured enslavement by a wealthy family. Over time, Tawida and her master develop a deep bond of care and affection.

Nominated for the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, ‘The Slave Yards’ by Bin Shatwan delves into a harsh period of Libyan history, especially emphasizing women’s experiences. Critics praise the novel for its depiction of race, class, and freedom, vividly illustrating 19th-century Libyan society.

The translation of ‘The Slave Yards’ has earned acclaim for its clarity and elegance. It marks a significant contribution to Arabic literature, with Bin Shatwan bravely addressing themes of slavery and female oppression. The novel strikes a deep chord, weaving a complex narrative with engaging subplots. Bin Shatwan adeptly portrays the nuances of life during a turbulent time in Libyan history, highlighting the resilience of those impacted.

Read More About Najwa Bin Shatwan

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!