May 29, 2024

The Drowning: The Tale Between Silence and Song

The Drowning

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The novel “The Drowning” by Sudanese writer Hammour Ziada begins with a life bestowed by the Nile River to the setting, which the author utilizes as a tool in constructing the text as a rural village encompassing its customs and traditions—a culture where the atmosphere of the narrative thrives. However, the river, dubbed “the river of paradise,” begins to draw its metaphor from death, swiftly contradicting Hammour Ziada’s narrative with a fate that claims the lives of its travelers, leaving them as bodies floating on the river’s surface. Thus, the poem created by the text remains on the threshold of the novel, where the knowledgeable narrator searches within it for an elegy that grants death more than what life bestows.

The Ideology of the Story

Hammour Ziada narrates the storytelling of drowning, published by Dar Al-Ain in 2018 in 170 pages. This social fabric unfolds in the village of “Hajr Narti” during the military coup in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, in 1968. It portrays the incidents of drowning that constantly recur on the banks of the Nile River, which the villagers have grown accustomed to due to their frequent recurrence. The narrative begins with the scene of extracting the body of an unidentified woman found drowned floating on the river’s surface. Later, the story reveals another aspect, as while there is an unidentified body whose family has not been identified, there is also a mother who has been wandering for twenty-eight years, appearing every time she hears news of a victim being pulled from the river, searching for her daughter.

The protagonists of the drowning narrative are born from the womb of stories, as the narrator introduces the characters of the novel from the moment when the climax of a story, myth, historical event, or even an image embodying the village ends, until the words become alive in the senses’ perception, There is no central story in the novel that serves as the primary focus. Here, the narrative imposes its authority on the text from the very beginning, while language remains the mediator between the narrative and the meanings it bestows upon the text, allowing the author the freedom to address his questions about the ideology around which the tales of the novel’s protagonists revolve, With remarkable craftsmanship, Hamour Ziyada skillfully crafts through his text the issues of this social fabric, including the oppression of women, underage marriage, physical violence, religious sectarian conflicts, and the customs and traditions governed by the norms of Sudanese rural life. The text serves as a revealing exposé of the unspoken, while simultaneously delving into its paths in search of meaning beneath the rubble of memory.

The Folklore

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