171pp., paperback, Athens, 2021
A Bedouin man's struggle to preserve the culture and traditions of his people.
“Wise, loyal Ahmed goes to search for his missing camel, Zarga. It is a journey that begins innocently enough, but Slahi’s expansive imagination transforms it into an epic voyage across terrain both geographical and spiritual. At once compassionate and full of wisdom, this unforgettable novel also showcases Slahi’s sharp-eyed, irreverent wit. Ahmed’s story held me rapt. It is a generous reminder of the goodness and love that still exist in the world, no matter the darker forces at the edges.” Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King
“Ould Slahi’s second book and first novel, takes this loose thread (a desert vision) and weaves it into scraps of Mauritanian lore, poetry, and imagery until an epic adventure emerges. Although Ahmed’s story takes place during French colonization and before the Great Sahelian Droughts of the 1960s-80s, he feels with great certainty that his way of life is vanishing. This knowledge always lingers in the background of Ahmed and Zarga, giving urgency to the story’s role in recording what is fading away.” ArabLit
Mohamedou Ould Slahi is the son of a Mauritanian camel herder. He is the author of Guantánamo Diary (2015), a memoir written while he was detained without charge at the camp in Cuba. He was imprisoned for over 14 years (2002 -2016).
Larry Siems is the Chief of Staff for the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and a previous director of Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN. He edited, annotated, and introduced Guantánamo Diary.