The Land In-Between
by Moussa Ould Ebnou
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Pub Date 17 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 05 Dec 2022
In the distant future, while studying the land of Barzakh in the Sahara, members of the Institute for the Archeology of Human Thought unearth the bones of Gara, a young man, whose Myelin will unravel the secrets of his ancient consciousness.
A foreigner in his own land, Gara, in search of a better humanity, has traveled through three eras, from the 11th-century deserts of Mauritania to the dystopic future, inadvertently sowing the seeds of his own destruction.
An innovative masterpiece that symphonizes mysticism, religion, and Mauritanian culture into a dystopian reflection on the human condition, this unique blend of science fiction and philosophy will interest those looking for new voices and perspectives in science fiction.
Translated from French by Marybeth Timmermann, this is be the first official English publication of the work.
A Note From the Publisher
Moussa Ould Ebnou, one of Mauritania’s greatest novelists, earned his Ph.D. at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, and is a philosophy professor at the University of Nouakchott in Mauritania. He has written several novels and short stories in French and Arabic. He was a consultant for the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office in New York and served as a cultural advisor to the Presidency of Mauritania for fifteen years.
Average rating from 3 members
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.
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.
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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