Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Birds of Nabaa follows the physical and spiritual journeys of its narrator from his beginnings in a remote Mauritanian village, whose flocks lead the community according to their own inscrutable instincts, to life in Madrid, the Gulf states and Guinea, where his work as an embassy accountant takes him.
Inspired by the Sahara of his childhood and devoted from an early age to the vagabond life of the pre-Islamic poets, the narrator’s constant life on the move in search of the inner stillness known only to desert dwellers leads him always to the music, song and poetry so much part of Mauritanian life and the spiritual universe of Sufism around them.
Along the route the reader encounters the holy-fool sheikh, Rajab the teacher, and Hussein the poet, who all in their own way stand against the tribal values that the hero also rebels against. We are also drawn into the revolutionary world of Abdurrahman, whose eternal search for freedom sees him quit the Qatari police and his job at a Nouakchott library as well as failing in the business of turning scrap metal into gold, but holding firm to his proto-socialist principles.
Fortune tellers and cowrie shell readers drop hints of an uncertain future and the interpretation of a frightening dream does not auger well. As desertification and drought take hold, we see the paradise of southern Mauritania and of Nabaa gradually decline and the waves of migration, always a feature of life in the Sahara, intensify, the novel ending with a shocking presentiment.
About the Author
Abdallah Uld Mohamadi Bah is a writer, novelist and journalist from Nabaghiya in southern Mauritania. His journalistic career began in the mid-1980s with al-Sha‘b newspaper. He became the West Africa correspondent for the daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, and later for the MBC TV channel, and for Aljazeera in Africa. As well as Birds of Nabaa (Tuyur Nabaa) his works include Timbuktu wa Akhawatuha (Timbuktu and her Sisters) and Yawmiyat Sahafi fe Ifreeqiya (Diary of a Journalist in Africa). He is currently CEO of Sahara Media Group in north and west Africa.
Raphael Cohen is a professional translator and lexicographer who studied Arabic and Hebrew at Oxford University and the University of Chicago. He has translated a growing number of novels by contemporary Arab authors including George Yarak, Mohamed Salmawy, Ahlem Mosteghanemi, Eslam Mosbah and Mona Prince. He is the translator of The Madness of Despair by Ghayla F T Al Said, and translated and introduced Poems of Alexandria and New York by Ahmed Morsi (both Banipal Books, 2021).