Baraka Sakin’s Novel ‘The Jungo’  Wins Yet Another Prestigious Literary Prize

Baraka Sakin’s Novel ‘The Jungo’  Wins Yet Another Prestigious Literary Prize

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) — Prolific Sudanese novelist, short story
writer Abdelaziz Braka Sakin was named the winner of the Le 2020 Prix de la literature Arabe for his novel The Jungo, Stakes of the Earth.
The Paris-based Institute du Monde Arabe (IMA) - The Arab World Institute - announced the news on its official Twitter account, in a French written tweet, which reads: “The Arab Literature Prize 2020, created by the IMA and the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation, is awarded to Sudanese writer Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin for his novel “Les Jango”, or The Jungo , Stakes of The Earth  , translated from Arabic into French by Xavier Luffin,”.

The novel was selected out of a shortlist of seven that included two translated and five works that were originally written in French.

The novel, already also translated into English, and published in the U.S.A , depicts the harsh life of seasonal farming workers in Sudan (locally known as the jungo). Its general theme, as its title may tell, is of an overworked, long neglected category, that is enmeshed in laborious but economically essential labor.
This labor is of little reward for the jungo, except for allowing them to lead a life free from all sorts of known social norms.
Conversely, these people have their social morals of their own which are distinctly humane.  
In 2009, Sakin also received the prestigious Tayeb Salih Award for the Arabic version of this novel.

The Tayeb Salih Award is an annual contest held in commemoration of the late Sudanese-international Novelist Tayeb Salih.  

The Le 2020 Prix de la Littérature literary award, established in 2013 by the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation and the Arab World Institute, recognizes an emerging writer from a member country of the Arab League of countries who has written a work (a novel or a collection of short stories or poems) published in French, or translated from Arabic to French, “relating to the theme of Arab  youth”. The winner of the award receives €10,000.

A number of books are chosen by a selection committee from those published in the previous year. At the end of the summer, these will be submitted to the jury members, who will meet under the chairmanship of Pierre Leroy, co-manager of the Lagardère Group, to select the winner, says the Institute.

Sakin (57) said on the occasion that “this prestigious prize, which was won before me by renowned writers like Jibor Aldewaihi, Sanan Anton and others, is a coronation of my novel, and constitutes a moral and material boost for my struggle.”

Adds Sakin, according to a press release from the Institute in Paris: I believe this novel was opportune in that it preaches tolerance, for we are living today in a world torn by violent identities, a semblance of the conflict of civilizations.

The Arabic version of the novel was published in 2009, and was, at the time, criticized harshly by the authorities and banned altogether in Sudan, because of what the authorities said, “the obscene” language it contained.

Possibly bored by this maltreatment from  the then government of dictator Omar Albashir, Sakin left the country to live in Austria and then in France.

In defense of his themes and characters, most of whom are drawn from the bottom of the society, Sakin argues that “This is the world I belong to, the world of the forgotten in terms of time and place, the world of the sick, the beggars, the local liquor brewers, the crazy and the soldiers taken to fight in defense of authorities they know nothing about, the tramps, the poor writers, the troublesome students and so on.”

“I am  a wholehearted, moral writer, a preacher of peace and freedom, but the sensor does not read me that way,”  Sakin writes on the back cover of each of his many works.

In his works of fiction Sakin projects himself as a first class narrator. He also holds the masterly employment of the techniques of magical realism. His branching, interwoven plots are always breathtaking, full of unpredictable, thrilling turns that force the reader to keep reading - to discover and to enjoy.

The Jungo Characters are another story. The reader of this novel can barely skip any of its characters as flat. It is due to his crafty touches, that Sakin gives the reader round images of many of the novel’s characters, so brief the appearance of them might be within the narrative.

What Specialists Say About The Jungo:

The English version of the novel, a translation of Sakin’s countryman Adil Babikir, who also translated into English Sakin’s other widely read novel “The Messiah Of Darfur“, has drawn a lot of criticism and commentaries:-

“Absolutely enthralling. By turns sprightly lively and deeply poignant, Baraka Sakin creates a canvas of vast emotional depth crisscrossed by tenderly unflinching attention to the  pains, sorrows, and joys of the labored and laboring body. A boldly affirmative story by the best of the current generation of African writers,” wrote Tejumola Olaniyan, The Louise Durham Mead Professor of African and African Diaspora literature, English Department, Cornel University.

“Intricately and exquisitely wrought, Baraka Sakin’s The Jungo is a story to remember, indeed, to cherish. Sakin gives us a memorable cast of characters held together by an uncommon kinship and moral vision. This is a rare, luminous view of Sudan and East Africa, a necessary addition to contemporary African fiction,”  wrote Dagmawi Woubshet, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Literature, English Department, Cornell University.

“The Jungo is a postcolonial novel par excellence. It is an outstanding work of fiction that should encourage serious reflection on, and critical studies of contemporary Sudanese literature in Arabic, which with the exception of few, rarely exist in English translation,” wrote

Kamal Elgizouli, a Sudanese poet, writer, lawyer, and former General Secretary of the Sudanese Writers’ Union.

Sakin’s  Published Works


·         The Mills, Vision Publishing, Cairo, 2000

·         The Water Ashes, Vision Publishing, Cairo, 2001

·         The Husband of the Bullet Woman and My Beautiful Daughter, Vision Publishing, Cairo, 2003

·         The Bedouin Lover, Vision Publishing, Cairo, 2010

·         The Jungo - Stakes of the Earth, Awraq Publishing House, Cairo, 2009 English translation: The Jungo: Stakes of the Earth. (2015). Africa World Press/The Red Sea Press, Inc., Trenton, NJ, USA. ISBN 9781569024249 French translation: Les Jango, Éditions Zulma, Paris, France, 2020, ISBN 978-2-84304-846-3

·         The Messiah of Darfur, Awraq Publishing House, Cairo, 2012 French translation: Le Messie du Darfour, Éditions Zulma, Paris, France, 2016, ISBN 9782843047794

Short stories

·         At the Peripheries of Sidewalks, Awraq Publishing House, Cairo, 2005

·         A Woman from Kampo Kadees, Awraq Publishing House, Cairo, 2005 published in French as Une femme du camp de Kadis, in Nouvelles du Soudan, Magellan & Cie, 2010

·         The Daily remains of the Night, Awraq Publishing House, Cairo, 2010

·         The Music of the Bones, Awraq Publishing House, Cairo, 2011

·         The Butcher's Daughter, in The Book of Khartum, anthology of short stories, Comma Press, UK 2016




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