Cover Image: Barzakh


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Member Reviews

An interesting premise. It felt as though it meandered for a bit, but overall was a good read and I look forward to more from the author!

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Barzakh is a fascinating snapshot of the past and future of a fictional Mauritanian desert region. Framed by the story of future scientists discovering his remains, narrator Gara jumps between three eras--the distant past, the recent past, and the distant future. Throughout these discrete sections of the story, Gara continues to grapple with autonomy, the concept of goodness in the face of human atrocities, living in the wake of such atrocities, and his relationship with a woman named Vala, who continues to appear as almost the only redeeming feature in a life of slavery, exploitation, and desolation. I especially enjoyed the future section of this novel, which depicts space-age life and technology (and poverty and corruption) from the perspective of those it's left behind--in this case, desert nomads and prison laborers in the nuclear containment facilities turning Earth into a wasteland. I was also delighted by the brief appearance of a far-future psychic vampire alien--this book has a lot in it!

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I would call this more of a speculative novel than science fiction although it contains time travel. A man lives and travels to three different time periods going forward in time. Ebnou writes beautiful descriptions of the desert where much of the action takes place. At the same time, it is a bit depressing.

I'm glad I read it for it gave me exposure to an African writer that I had not heard of before (not that I know that many). It is always good to hear new voices and new stories.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest opinion.

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Hmm the way this book was written reminded me very much of how albert Camus wrote, the kind of melody of the narrative, I think this book will be way better in audiobook because of that, people expecting a very sci-fi book may be a bit disappointed, because our main character is a time traveler without memories, at the same time, he has those memories, yeah you’ll need to try this out.

The story is told in 3 parts, when our time traveler lived in his own time, he got mixed up with a slaves revolt and decided to listen to some advice and run into the hills to be alone, then a “jinx” (I use this word that is not at all talked in the book because in muslin legends a jinx is kind of a dark spirit that makes people do things that they otherwise wouldn't do) make him an offer to make him travel to the future, but the catch is that he will be able to travel twice in the future, can never travel back, but in the last time he will die there, he could also decided to stop in his first stop and just have a natural death there (grow old and die), to travel in time, he will need to go where there is no one around and give up of living with other people, and our time traveler just goes to the end of the road… I wont enter in details, but this book is more of the kind of speculative fiction than sci-fi, is not bad, but you’ll need to enjoy a kind of poetic narrative just like Albert Camus used to write.

Thank you NetGalley for the free ARC and this is my honest opinion.

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