In search of a lost Khartoum

Elizabeth Hodgkin enjoys a paean to a land that failed to become a nation

The World Today Published 8 June 2018 Updated 24 March 2021 3 minute READ

Elizabeth Hodgkin

Former Researcher, Amnesty International

A Line in the River: Khartoum City of Memory

Jamal Mahjoub, Bloomsbury, £25


Jamal Mahjoub left Khartoum in 1989, at the time of the Islamist coup d’etat when his father, joint editor, with Bona Malwal, of the Sudan Times newspaper, was detained and later went into exile with his family. In Travelling with Djinns, probably the best and most autobiographical of his novels, Mahjoub considers time as not linear but spiral; his own mother, as well as that of the book’s hero, was British, his father Sudanese. ‘Our history was never going to be a straightforward linear narrative, but rather a series of contortions, disjointed incidents, haphazard circumstances…’ Mahjoub returned nearly 20 years later, in 2008.

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