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Coming into Focus: Sudanese Women Writers

December 2020

Image: Yasmeen Abdullah, “The Butterfly Effect.” By arrangement with the artist.

Image: Yasmeen Abdullah, “The Butterfly Effect.” By arrangement with the artist.

Only a small percentage of the literature published in Sudan is written by women, and even less finds its way into English. This month we’re taking a step toward addressing that imbalance by presenting excerpts from five novels by female Sudanese writers. Four of these writers make their English-language debuts here; all five offer compelling portraits of contemporary Sudanese society. Amna al-Fadl interprets a journalist’s recurring dream. Rania Mamoun sees a routine morning disrupted by sudden violence. Zeinab Belail observes a liminal street with a life of its own. Ann El Safi pens a tale of lifelong, and unrequited, devotion. And Sara Al-Jack tracks a young woman obsessed with a mysterious book. Guest editor Sawad Hussain provides an illuminating introduction. 

Aperture: Sudanese Female Novelists Coming into Focus
By Sawad Hussain
Is there some sort of double marginalization at play?
At the Coffee Shop
By Rania Mamoun
This man must be high on something, I thought.
Translated from Arabic by Nesrin Amin
Al-Nar Street
By Zeinab Belail
Women are forbidden from setting foot in the swamp.
Translated from Arabic by Nesrin Amin
Freedom of Flight
By Ann El Safi
She is a woman I have watched for many years, and for as many years she has been unaware of me.
Translated from Arabic by Nariman Youssef
Basma’s Dream
By Amna al-Fadl
She hovers overhead, aimless, surrendering herself to fate.
Translated from Arabic by Katherine Van de Vate
The Birth of the Spirit
By Sara Al-Jack
I didn’t go to the dorms as I had planned; my feet led me to the river.
Translated from Arabic by Yasmine Zohdi