By: Rogia al-Shafee
Khartoum 3.1.2023 (Sudanow )-The Sudanese novelist, Hamour Ziada, won the Special Appreciation Award from the Arab World Institute and the Jean-Luc Lagardere Foundation in Paris in its tenth edition for the year 2022, for his novel “Drowning” which translated into French and considered as a new achievement in the field of literature and a continuation of the path of creativity.
The events of the novel "Drowning" includes the circle of oppression that does not keep or escape from choice, oppression, and the fate of man in a society governed by customs and traditions. .
The novel comes in (266 pages) of intermediate pieces, and it is the third for its author who was crowned with the Nagib Mahfouz Award for Literature from the American University in Cairo in 2014 for (Shouq Al-Darwish), in addition to two collections of stories.
The events take place in the Sudanese village (Hajar Narti), located on the Nile River, where the author takes May 1969 as a starting point for his narration, which runs parallel between the stories of people and the stories of the homeland.
The story begins with drowning, as the people of (Hajer Narti) find a body floating on the surface of the Nile for an unidentified girl, and they send, as usual, to the neighbouring villages until delegations come to identify the body.
With the incursion into the houses and paths of the village, characters and names abound, but there is a woman remains the focus of events.
(Faiet Nido) who was born to a mother of slaves in a bygone era, but she fell into the same sin when she gave birth to her fatherless daughter, Abeer, (Fiaiet Nido) is looking forward to a better future for her daughter and wants to enroll her in school so that she can_ one day_ become a doctor, but societal oppression and class struggle pushes the child Abeer to the same fate, as she becomes a mother when she is thirteen years old without marriage.
It is noteworthy that the oppression here did not only stem from the male-dominated society, which is ruled by tribalism, but the women also learned to practice oppression against each other. Whoever (Abeer) was deprived of education is the wife of the mayor.
In one of the interviews, Fiaiet Ndo says to her daughter, Abeer, “We are alone. We have no family, no money, and no respect. All those who hug me hold me in contempt.”
She continues, “We are the offspring from nowhere in a village that boasts of genealogy. No one respects us except as much as they need us and what we show them in terms of politeness and obedience. You are not the daughter of Badri, nor are you from the house of fire, nor is your father the owner of Atyan. You are a Fiaiet Ndu girl.”
And if the oppression of women is represented in beating, humiliation and sexual exploitation, then the oppression of men is no less severe and painful. This is Muhammad Saeed, the son of the mayor, whose family forces him to return to (Hajar Narti) to take the place of his late father and drop out of studies at the university, so his fate changes and his dreams of becoming an “effendi” fades out.
Mohammed Saeed's submission to the desire of others plunges him into greater oppression when he is forced to bless the military movement led by Jaafar al-Numeiri to take power in Sudan, otherwise he will lose his position and end his family's influence.
All this oppression did not prevent the man from practicing the same ritual on his younger brother, Al-Rasheed, who finds himself day and night compelled to marry Nour Al-Sham, the widow of his brother Bashir, who is several years older than him, in order to preserve the inheritance and raise his orphaned nephew.
All these models presented by the author and others emerge from among the lines of the novel to raise questions that may seem unanswerable about human will and the constant struggle between what he desires and what is imposed on him and his right to self-determination.
The novel is not without beautiful pictures drawn by the author with his words about the Nile and the countryside in Sudan, in addition to many poems and songs that he employed on occasions of sadness and joy for the inhabitants of (Narti Stone).
Just as the novel began with the drowning of an unknown girl, it ends with the drowning of another girl, but this time the reader who lived through her suffering knows her.
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