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Daoud Hari – The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur

February 10, 2008

LibraryThing Early Reviewers19. The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari (2008)

Length: 200 pages

Genre: Non-Fiction; Memoir

Started: 10 February 2008
Finished: 10 February 2008

Summary: Daoud Hari is a Zaghawa tribesman from North Darfur. After fleeing from his village when it was attacked by the Sudanese Army in 2003, he began working as a translator for NGOs and journalists in refugee camps in Chad, and as a guide for journalists who wanted to make the dangerous crossing into Darfur to report on the conflict. After many near-death experiences, including a several-month ordeal in which he was captured by the Sudanese government as a spy, he has written his story into this simple and heartfelt plea for action to stop the genocide of his people.

Review: How can you properly review a book like this? All of my usual turns of phrase fail; I can’t really say that I enjoyed the experience of reading it. However, while it didn’t blow me away or reach new literary heights or anything, it did simply and quietly break my heart. Daoud’s voice is simple but powerful, and immediately draws you in, as though you were sitting down to talk over spiced tea. He tells his story in such a straightforward manner that it is impossible not to be drawn in, and horrified by what he describes. The most compelling parts are the most personal – in objective terms, the mass grave of eighty one young men is “worse” than the death of a single family member or friend, but the emotions (and thus the impact on the reader) come across most clearly when it is something that the author experienced instead of observed. The one thing I think would have most improved this book would have been a clearer picture of life in Darfur before the genocide – pieces filter through the rest of the story, but since the story begins with Hari out of the country when the attacks started, it would have benefitted from a little more scene-setting.

This book is not an easy read from a mental and emotional point of view, but it is a fast read, almost more like an extended magazine article. Daoud makes his point quickly but effectively, in a way that is deeply personal and moving but still infected with a quiet sense of joy, and friendship, and hope – hope that his words and the words of others will help make things better for his people and his home. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Should be read by everyone; It doesn’t require much of a time commitment, just a commitment of the human spirit.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. William Stubbs permalink
    June 3, 2008 8:54 pm

    Just finished reading Hari’s memoir, having read “The Kite Runner”. Hari’s exposure of the atrocities in Darfur and neighboring regions is gripping and informative. His story of escape, tenacity, and faith is compelling in that defines and redefines what it means to be human. He uses the notion of being HUMAN to plead his case, refocus country-men fighting against villages, and compel readers to support initiatives in place for Darfur. Congratulations, Daoud! Keep living and keep writing.

  2. Kira permalink
    August 9, 2010 3:27 pm

    Hello, I am a current High school student and We are required to read this book. I, cannot get past chapter one. I do feel for the people facing these troubles but it doesn’t spark any interest. I am dragging myself through the pages because I need to have this read. But the way he writes is bland and lacks vocabulary, for God’s sake He barely speaks English. This would be great for a Tv story but it is the WORST book I have ever had the misfortune of reading. His writing Is very confusing. he is craming to many thoughts and plans into one page. I am a 9th grade at college level who is desperately struggling with this book. I read books three times this size in a matter of days. This one I have had for months. I am putting this lightly by saying this book is a waste of time.

  3. Highschool student permalink
    September 3, 2011 1:24 pm

    Well look at you on your high horse reading big books. Are those big books called twilight? no need to hate so much, This isn’t supposed to be a fantasy novel of excitement and happy endings. You don’t need great vocabulary to tell a good story, which is exactly what he is doing. When you read it, think of his writing more as a conversation rather than a book. What he is trying to do is get help from the outside world, draw attention to his struggle and the struggle of his people, he is not trying to entertain your college level self, but as it implies in the summary above, the book doesn’t require your time or your excellent reading skills, just a commitment of your human spirit

  4. Myra permalink
    January 2, 2012 9:28 pm

    I cannot get past the 2nd chapter…in dire need of a summary and review because I just could not get through this book…not worth my time..

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