Lit & Found: Three Short Stories by Sudanese Writer Sabah Sanhouri

For this week’s Lit & Found, we continue our focus on Sudanese authors.

Over at her website, sabahsanhouri.com, Sudanese poet and fiction writer Sabah Sanhouri has posted a number of literary works in Arabic and in translation: into English, French, German, and Italian.

Sanhouri, whose novel Paradise is forthcoming in Christine Battermann’s German translation (Swallow Editions, fall 2022), has posted three short stories in English translation to her website: “Lines” (translated by Sanhouri and Hodna Nuernberg), “Edges” (translated by Sanhouri and Nuernberg), and “Isolation” (translated by Max Shmookler & Najlaa O Toum).

Photo from the author’s website.

Isolation opens:

  It’s hot, hot enough to suffocate. There is nothing except this table upon which I sleep, a rectangular hall with four doors and twelve windows. On each side a door. On the shorter sides, two windows, each with a door between them, and on the longer sides, two windows to the left of the door and two to the right.

            The town is absolutely empty but for the sound of my thoughts straying from me to the point of anger. Alone I am in this hall, alone on the table, alone in the town, I, alone, the only one after whom death does not lust. I, alone, am stretched upon the table into which I have begun to sink, to blend, its wooden slats having nearly become the marrow of my bones. Rising requires a tremendous effort, much like a snake stripping itself of its skin. I struggle to rise. Where did I put the case? I wonder. It must be somewhere outside. The table is in the middle of the hall, so I leave through one of the doors on the longer side, as leaving through the shorter side would only double my effort.

A film adaptation of Sanhouri’s prize-winning short story “Isolation,” directed by Burhan Saadah, was released in 2013. 

Sanhouri also has a number of poems in English on her website, several of which have been mixed with music and posted on Soundcloud.

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