September 23, 2023

Understanding the Puzzle of Life Through the Angel of Death

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The Higher Horizon: by Saudi Author Fatima Abdulhamid

Saudi novelist Fatima Abdulhamid seeks to understand the ever-evolving mystery of life through the lens and vision of the Angel of Death. She chooses him to be the narrator of her novel The Higher Horizon (Sharjah: Meskiliani Publishing, 2022), which made it to the shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, commonly known as the Arabic Booker. The work confronts one of the gravest anxieties lurking in a person’s life journey: the fear of death. Abdulhamid attempts to deconstruct this fear in her own unique way, placing it at the forefront of her novel and making it a constant source of terror, while also humanising it, and in so doing aiming to understand the interplay of life and death.

The author transforms the figure of the Angel of Death, Azrael, into a fictional character, giving him human attributes. He analyses, describes, recalls and elaborates on moments he experiences while taking the people’s souls, describing how they meet him with terror and panic, futilely trying to escape from him. In this way, the novel stresses that life is a precious gift that one should cherish. Through its illumination of the shadowy realms of death, the narrative opens windows through which readers may seek ways to live life, rather than passively awaiting the inevitable: a death that might claim a person at any stage, without warning.

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