THE CONSCRIPT, a novel of Libya’s anticolonial war

: Hailu (G.)

R 195.00
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59pp., paperback, First English Language Edition, Athens, 2013


Originally written in Tigrinya in 1927 and first published in 1950. Translated into English for this edition by Ghirmai Negash.

Includes an introduction by Laura Chrisman.

Gebreyesus Hailu's classic novel about the experiences of the Eritrean soldiers conscripted by the Italian colonial army to fight in Libya against the nationalist Libyan forces fighting for freedom from colonial rule.

“Gebreyesus Hailu does Africa great service in recounting an all but forgotten and therefore all the more reprehensible chapter in African colonial history. In the same spirit, Ghirmai Negash’s superb translation brings back to world literature an Eritrean literary jewel of global and timeless relevance.” Alemseged Tesfai, author of Two Weeks in the Trenches

The Conscript gives the Tigrinya novel its early framing contour, as it shows sophistication and maturity in the depiction of the inner turmoil and real-life characteristics of its characters. It is a novel that grapples with issues of identity, self-agency, war, and the traumatic effects of (de)colonization on the human psyche. Read it and see for yourself how canonical novels like Things Fall Apart, Weep Not, Child, Houseboy, The Bluest Eye, are eerily prefigured in an early African-language novel.” Ali Jimale Ahmed, Professor and Chair, Department of Comparative Literature, Queens College, CUNY

Gebreyesus Hailu (1906–1993) was Vicar General of the Catholic Church in Eritrea and worked for the Ethiopian government in various roles: he was cultural attaché at the Ethiopian Embassy in Rome, a member of the National Academy of Language, and advisor to the Ministry of Information.

Ghirmai Negash is Professor of English and African literature at Ohio University. He is the author of A History of Tigrinya Literature in Eritrea and coeditor of Who Needs a Story?