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Life and sensuality in a refugee camp in Suliaman Addonia's "Silence is My Mother Tongue"

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

In "Silence is My Mother Tongue", the latest novel by Eritrean-Ethiopian writer Sulaiman Addonia, teen Saba and her brother Hagos arrive at a refugee camp in Sudan, where she is determined to continue her studies, while he is content to take care of her. The other Eritrean refugees bring their conservative views to the camp, especially when it comes to women. Addonia brings Saba to life through her fight to determine her own future, refusing the traditional restrictions imposed on her gender.

"We need to take responsibility and accountability for the war we commit, especially against women," says Addonia, speaking of the struggle Saba has to assert herself, and her quest to finish her educaiton. "If there are crimes committed by women, or seem to be committed by women, they are extremely highlighted," he adds.

Also included in this podcast: Helon Habila, Nigerian author of "Travelers", a novel coming out in June, speaks about his favorite book from the Heinemann African classics series.


Camaraderie and Irish attitudes in Nigerian writer’s short story collection

Helon Habila's novel 'Travelers' explores the lives of Africans in exile

Contrasting images of his native Nigeria in Nnamdi Ehirin's debut novel, The Prince of Monkeys

South African novelist Mphuthumi Ntabeni shines a light on the Xhosa narrative

Somali writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah speaks of trauma intertwined with beauty in her story "Jujube"

Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga explores post-war trauma in "This Mournable Body"

The perils for Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa personified in Sue Nyathi's new novel, The Gold-Diggers

Honoring those who lived through Zimbabwe's Gukurahundi in Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's novel, House of Stone

Kenyan writer Kiprop Kimutai's short story speaks about the privilege of wealth in a queer environment

Does trauma define the person? Aminatta Forna's latest novel, Happiness, explores love and loss

Musician examines his integrity in Nigerian magical realism novel Taduno's Song

The struggle in Ethiopia continues - there's no stopping half way, says political poet Hama Tuma

Tense, compelling Zimbabwean tales in Behind Enemy Lines short stories

Naivo's Beyond the Rice Fields crafts an epic historical tale set in the highlands of Madagascar

Karim Miské dazzles readers with award-winning crime novel "Arab Jazz"

Characters haunted by memories, prejudice in Nigeria novel "Crocodile Girl"

A glimpse into the lives of Lagosians in Nigerian Ayo Sogunro's short story collection

Love and infertility issues in "Stay with Me", a new novel by Ayòbámi Adébáyò

Young Congolese man trying to deal with life and school in JJ Bola's new novel; Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction