Wednesday, October 18th 2017

A book that changed my life: The Translator

Optimism blossoms amid the horror that is Darfur, even without Angelina Jolie

the translator

BY AMY LEASK — Crises in other countries often come to my attention by way of biased media accounts, or through celebrity crusades like Angelina Jolie’s whatever, in wherever, spot news. The Translator, however, is different. This book is written from the inside — that is, an insider’s experience of a region fraught with political and pain-body upheaval.

True to its title, I experienced the book as a bridge between my Western schooling and the very real people struggling in Darfur.

A plot synopsis: Daoud Hari, a Zaghawa tribesman, is fiercely proud of his homeland and its traditions. However, having lost countless friends and family members, having witnessed a number of brutal murders, and having been abducted, abused and threatened with death, he is keenly aware of the need for immediate and drastic action.

Through his travels, Daoud makes contact with a number of journalists from the UK and the US, and realizes that the key to saving his country may lie in reaching out to other countries, and raising awareness of Darfur’s current and past turmoil.

Each chapter is written with great passion, but even the most tragic and gruesome events are not sensationalized. Readers aren’t spared the gory details, but aren’t manipulated by them either. The author’s intention is simply to bring to light the blatant injustice with which he and his people live.

I found the most compelling aspect of the book to be its incredible optimism. Along with tales of murder and social upheaval, Daoud shares happy childhood memories, vivid descriptions of celebrations and holidays, portraits of a vast and varied landscape, and fond recollections of family and friends. Darfur, despite the chaos, is presented as a country worth saving, and a place not beyond hope. Even in moments of desperation, the author is willing to die to preserve traditions and customs of which he is fiercely proud. To me, it’s this personal connection to the story that makes the book so much more than a mere source of information.

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One Comment on “A book that changed my life: The Translator”

  1. Thank you for your cogent account of the Hari book. You
    helped me learn. If I'd seen that in the New Yorker or New York
    Times Book Review or New York Review of Books I would not have read

    You made me read it. Thank you.

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