Passage of Tears

Translated by and Nicole Ball and David Ball
₹499.00 $19.00
Djibouti, a hot, impoverished little country on the Horn of Africa, is a place of great strategic importance, for off its coast lies a crucial passage for the world’s oil. In this novel by Abdourahman A. Waberi, Djibril, a young Djiboutian voluntarily exiled in Montreal, returns to his native land to prepare a report for an American economic intelligence firm. Meanwhile, a shadowy, threatening figure imprisoned in an island cell seems to know Djibril’s every move. He takes dictation from his preaching cellmate known as his “Venerable Master,” but as the words are put on the page, a completely different text appears—the life of Walter Benjamin, Djibril’s favorite author.
Passage of Tears cleverly mixes many genres and forms of writing—spy novel, political thriller, diary (replete with childhood memories), travel notebook, legends, parables, incantations, and prayers. Djibril’s reminiscences provide a sense of Djibouti’s past and its people, while a satire of Muslim fundamentalism is unwittingly delivered through the other Djiboutian voice. Waberi’s inventive parody is a lesson in tolerance, while his poetic observations reveal his love and concern for his homeland.


A gripping book, burning with urgency and tension.’ Télérama
With Waberi, the juxtapositions—surprising, provocative, and original—form a good part of the thrill themselves.’ Words Without Borders
Waberi has concocted with his magical alchemy a tale that blends political thriller, legends, spy novel, and the diary of a man tailor-made for the know-it-all.’ Salonica World Lit
Passage of Tears is a cerebral modern thriller (of sorts) that defies easy categorization [. . .] Equally at ease in both First and Third Worlds (and all their trappings), Waberi manages the rare feat of handling and integrating Western intellectual and political thought as comfortably and convincingly as he does the ideologies and culture of the Horn of Africa (and that without overwhelming the actual fiction).’ Complete Review
If Waberi’s books are any indication, the novel of ideas, long regarded with indifference if not suspicion, may be set for a renaissance. Waberi is unabashed and unusually adept in creating heart-wrenching stories that test general assumptions, politically correct and incorrect, about exile, tolerance, métissage, the hypocritical cynicism of postcolonial Western foreign policies and development, the pragmatic cynicism of aspiring political and religious factions in the developing world, and the ruthless machinery of a global economy.’ The Hudson Review
A palpable illustration of life in Djibouti. In supple flowing prose, Waberi layers image upon image of life in that arid, rocky land where the Arabian and Red Sea meet in the Gulf of Tadjoura [. . .] Ultimately Passage of Tears is a story about rejection, estrangement, and exile. Waberi delivers a satisfying end that readers will consider many more times after the pages are tucked into the bookcase.’ Colorado Review
Disguised as a political thriller, Passage of Tears is above all a great novel of childhood, murderous identities, and exile.’ Le Monde des Livres
ISBN: 9780857425317
Rights: UCP
Publication Year: February 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Size: 5" x 8"
Shipping: Shipping rates will be calculated at checkout and will depend on your location.

If you are ordering from India, your order will be shipped from Seagull Books, Calcutta.

If you are ordering from the US or the UK or anywhere else in the world, your order will be shipped from the University of Chicago Press' distribution centre, Chicago.

Please note: For customers paying in currencies other than Indian rupee or US dollar, prices will be calculated according to the currency conversion rate at the time of purchase and may vary from the printed price.


leave a review