Friday Finds: An Excerpt from Haji Jaber’s ‘Black Foam’

Although Haji Jaber’s Black Foam did not advance to the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction shortlist this week, we still hope to soon find his books in English translation:

Nancy Roberts has already translated an excerpt of this longlisted Black Foam for the Short Story Project. It opens:

He placed the suitcase lightly into the tray, and then took off to meet it on the other side. However, the soldier across from him waved him back as he scrutinized the screen in front of him. The conveyer belt moved backwards, and as the suitcase emerged from the screener, everyone looked suspiciously at it and its owner. It moved again and disappeared inside the baggage screener. The man crossed over for a second time to wait for it on the other side, but once more the soldier sent it back to where it had come from. The owner of the suitcase wanted to ask what was going on, but by this time the soldier was busy talking to a coworker. He stepped forward slightly, only to receive a stern gesture to stay where he was. Looking in his wife’s direction, he saw that she had finished going through inspection and was anxiously waiting for him.

The line behind him had grown quite long by this time, and impatient grumbles were getting steadily louder. Faced with no other choice, the soldier instructed the man to step aside for his suitcase to be searched by hand, and gestured to those behind him to pass through. Once again, the man looked over to where his wife was standing. She was witness to what was happening, observing his public humiliation as two soldiers gingerly spread out the contents of his bag for all to see, eyeing him warily the entire time.

“Ok. Go ahead.”

Keep reading at the Short Story Project.


‘Finally, Haji Jaber’s on an IPAF Longlist’

Eritrean Novelist Haji Jaber: On Writing the Stories of the Falasha Jews