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By Noemi Linardi
An intense, involving, violent and metaphorical story of the freedom and difficulty of being oneself. The story of a generation between colonization and independence, between “East” and “West”, and the strength to remain intact between two worlds, to build on an identity level.
A story in Sudan
More than a colonial criticism
More than a proper colonial criticism, such as that of Edward Said’s Orientalism, Tayyeb’s book is more a criticism of the inevitable arrival of modernity, which obviously also passes through colonization, but which should be periodic and slow and not imposed from above, because it creates destructive effects. Afterwards what needs to be highlighted is that the book is really focused on the identity construction of Mustapha Said since most of the narration is occupied by the story of his life.
Son of a dead father and a woman who has now become apathetic, a symbol of the land raped by the colonizer, M. S. grows up without love and without feelings but with a highly developed intelligence. Arrived in England, he will implement his revolt plan: to conquer young English women and then induce them to commit suicide. In this sick seduction game the young Mustapha uses all the stereotypes that the British have on Africans to conquer the girls. But once he returns to Sudan he will build a secret chamber, in the English way, where the narrator thinks he will see his reflex once Mustapha Said is gone.
The end of the novel is also highly symbolic. The narrator swims from north to south until he loses consciousness, without knowing if he is alive or dead, trapped between these two worlds.