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Best of 2009: Best book

Monday, December 7, 2009 by Marianne Elliott

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I've already written here about the best book I read this year. It was 'The Translator', a memoir by Doaud Hari.It is one of the most humane and powerful books I've ever read.

Hari
writes about his experiences of the genocide in Darfur. His own village
is attacked and his family decimated and scattered. He goes on to work
as a translator for UN investigators and journalists in an effort to
get the truth told about what had been done to his people. He writes
with an extraordinary combination of elegant poetry and brutal honesty
and his moral insight is as sharp as a knife.

He is asked why
he takes the risk of traveling back into Darfur, over and over again,
when he is wanted by the Sudanese government and lives with a constant
death threat hanging over his head. In response he says that as long as
his people were not safe he could not be safe anywhere. The next line
spoke to me so clearly I imagined I could hear his voice here in my
kitchen with me:

"How can you be safe if your people are not safe? And so who are your people? Perhaps everyone is your people."

That,
my friends, is why I write about the Gaza Strip and Afghanistan. That's
why I write about climate change affecting farmers in Tanzania and why
I've worked for Oxfam, the United Nations and the Palestinian Human
Rights Centre. As long as our people are not safe, how can any of us be
safe? And is not everyone our people?

And I'm not the only one who thinks that this is an extra-ordinary and important book. Here are a few other people's thoughts:

The Translator, by Daoud Hari, a native Darfurian, may be the
biggest small book of this year, or any year. In roughly 200 pages of
simple, lucid prose, it lays open the Darfur genocide more intimately
and powerfully than do a dozen books by journalists or academic
experts. Hari and his co-writers achieve this in a voice that is
restrained, generous, gentle and—astonishingly—humorous.”
Washington Post Book World

“[The Translator] is a book every American should read. In the
spirit of courage and a desire to protect his people, Hari has written
and emotional yet gentle memoir…”
Deseret Morning News

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One Response to "Best of 2009: Best book"

  1. I will be reading this over my winter break from teaching because of your passionate recommendation.
    Love to you,
    Delia

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