In this thought-provoking and often enigmatic novel, Abdourahman Waberi reflects on the series of horrors – political, economic, religious, and environmental – which have dominated Djibouti in recent years, using five different speakers, each of whom comments on his life, past and present, often switching back and forth within a single monologue. The novel opens at Roissy Airport (Charles de Gaulle), where Bashir Assoweh, an uneducated, adolescent veteran of Djibouti’s civil war is hoping for admission into France, and asylum. Drafted to fight for his government against rebels, he has now been demobilized but never paid for his efforts. The war is over – “a tie game” – but he no longer has a home or family to return to, forced to spend his nights camping out in a tent beside the water, carousing with other young veterans, committing minor robberies, and smoking dope. Standing at Roissy, beside a middle-aged intellectual named Harbi, who will almost certainly be granted asylum because he has been an active opponent of the regime of Ali Arif, Bashir is assumed to be Harbi’s son. Neither of them corrects the French at Immigration. Abdo-Julien, Harbi’s real son, is not with Harbi, his whereabouts unclear, and Alice, Harbi’s French wife, is also not present. As the novel unfolds through monologues by five different speakers, the horrors of Djibouti’s recent history unfold.
Category Archive for 'Djibouti'
In one of the most stimulating novels I have read in many years, Djibouti author Abdourahman A. Waberi, now living in France, explores issues of crucial contemporary importance while examining the history of religious extremism and how young people are drawn to it. He does this within the context of an intriguing, often poetic, novel which contains mysteries, a spy narrative, secret identities, a writer speaking from the grave, and a mystical, real-time connection between two characters who never meet during the narrative. Though I was glued to the pages of this short novel, I am still thinking of all the mysteries raised here for which, intentionally, the author offers no easy answers as he takes the reader in new directions.