The Translator: A Tribesman's Memory Of Darfur

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The Translator: A Tribesman's Memory Of Darfur

by Daoud Hari

Doubleday Canada | January 13, 2009 | Trade Paperback

4.25 out of 5 rating. 4 Reviews
"If God must break your leg He will at least teach you to limp - so it is said in Africa. This book is my poor limping - a modest account that cannot tell every story that deserves telling. I have seen and heard many things in Darfur that have broken my heart. I bring the stories to you because I know most people want others to have good lives and, when they understand the situation, they will do what they can to bend the world back toward kindness. This is when human beings, I believe, are most admirable."

The young life of Daoud Hari - his friends call him David - has been one of bravery and mesmerizing adventure. As a translator and the guide of choice to media, the US Embassy, and the United Nations, Hari became a vital link to the outside world, a living witness to the brutal genocide underway in Darfur. Most of the reporting on the great tragedies of our day has been written by journalists, and after-the-fact. Rarely, in a conflict of this magnitude, has there been an eyewitness voice to the events as they are still happening. Daoud Hari is that voice.

The Translator is a suspenseful, harrowing and deeply moving memoir of how one person can make a difference in the world - an on-the-ground account of one of the biggest stories of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 224 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in

Published: January 13, 2009

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385666160

ISBN - 13: 9780385666169

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– More About This Product –

The Translator: A Tribesman's Memory Of Darfur

The Translator: A Tribesman's Memory Of Darfur

by Daoud Hari

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 224 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in

Published: January 13, 2009

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385666160

ISBN - 13: 9780385666169

Read from the Book

Chapter One A Call from the Road I am sure you know how important it can be to get a good phone signal. We were speeding through the hot African desert in a scratched and muddy Land Cruiser that had been much whiter a week earlier. Our driver, a Darfur tribesman like me, was swerving through thorny acacia bushes, working the gears expertly in the deep sands of another and always another ravine, which we call a wadi, and sailing over the bumps in the land–there are no roads to speak of. In the backseat, a young news filmmaker from Britain, Philip Cox, was holding on as we bounced and as our supplies thumped and clanked and sloshed around. A veteran of these deserts, he was in good humor–even after a long week of dusty travel and so many emotionally difficult interviews. Survivors told us of villages surrounded at night by men with torches and machine guns, the killing of men, women, and children, the burning of people alive in the grass huts of Darfur. They told us of the rape and mutilation of young girls, of execution by machete of young men–sometimes eighty at a time in long lines. You cannot be a human being and remain unmoved, yet if it is your job to get these stories out to the world, you keep going. So we did that. I was Philip’s translator and guide, and it was my job tokeep us alive. Several times each hour I was calling militarycommanders from rebel groups or from the Chad National Army to ask if we should go this way or that way to avoid bat
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From the Publisher

"If God must break your leg He will at least teach you to limp - so it is said in Africa. This book is my poor limping - a modest account that cannot tell every story that deserves telling. I have seen and heard many things in Darfur that have broken my heart. I bring the stories to you because I know most people want others to have good lives and, when they understand the situation, they will do what they can to bend the world back toward kindness. This is when human beings, I believe, are most admirable."

The young life of Daoud Hari - his friends call him David - has been one of bravery and mesmerizing adventure. As a translator and the guide of choice to media, the US Embassy, and the United Nations, Hari became a vital link to the outside world, a living witness to the brutal genocide underway in Darfur. Most of the reporting on the great tragedies of our day has been written by journalists, and after-the-fact. Rarely, in a conflict of this magnitude, has there been an eyewitness voice to the events as they are still happening. Daoud Hari is that voice.

The Translator is a suspenseful, harrowing and deeply moving memoir of how one person can make a difference in the world - an on-the-ground account of one of the biggest stories of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.

From the Jacket

"A beautifully written and often poetic story of personal courage and redemption in the face of the worst that we can be. [Hari] invites us not only to discover but to be our better selves." - James Orbinski, author of An Imperfect Offering

"What a beautiful and powerfully told story. The harrowing details of Daoud Hari's survival in the most nightmarish of times oblige us to keep our faith in human decency. I will read The Translator again and again." -Wayson Choy

"May be the biggest small book of this year, or any year....In a voice that is restrained, generous, gentle and - astonishingly - humorous...Hari allows the vastness of Darfur's suffering to seep into the reader's consciousness in a way that a raw, more emotional telling might now. Gently ironic...Moving." -The Washington Post

About the Author

Daoud Hari was born in the Darfur region of Sudan. After escaping an assault on his village, he entered the refugee camps in Chad and began serving as a translator for major news organizations including The New York Times, NBC, and the BBC, as well as the UN and other aid groups. He now lives in the United States, and was part of SaveDarfur.org's "Voices from Darfur" tour.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"A beautifully written and often poetic story of personal courage and redemption in the face of the worst that we can be. [Hari] invites us not only to discover but to be our better selves." - James Orbinski, author of An Imperfect Offering

"What a beautiful and powerfully told story. The harrowing details of Daoud Hari''s survival in the most nightmarish of times oblige us to keep our faith in human decency. I will read The Translator again and again." -Wayson Choy

"May be the biggest small book of this year, or any year....In a voice that is restrained, generous, gentle and - astonishingly - humorous...Hari allows the vastness of Darfur''s suffering to seep into the reader''s consciousness in a way that a raw, more emotional telling might now. Gently ironic...Moving." -The Washington Post

Bookclub Guide

1. Daoud Hari manages to find the good in many people and makes friends easily. As he says, "I bring the stories to you because I know most people want others to have good lives and, when they understand the situation, they will do what they can to steer the world back to kindness." How does he make these friends? How can we apply this to our own lives? Do you agree that most people want others to have good lives?

2. The conflict in Darfur is often described as being between black Africans and Arabs. The book shows that the conflict is more complicated than that. What are some of the root causes of the conflict in Darfur? How did the African farmers and Arab nomads live together before the conflict? What are the similarities to other conflicts around the world? How can these conflicts be prevented in the future, particularly in light of global warming?

3. What specific steps can the world take to help ensure that Darfuris are allowed to return home, and to send the message that genocide doesn't work? Do you think genocide has worked so far in this conflict or in others? Can it be prevented in the future? If so, how?

4. Daoud describes the suffering of Darfuri refugees, particularly women and children. How are women and children refugees most vulnerable and what can be done to help them? What is the difference between refugees and internally displaced persons? Where else in the world do large numbers of refugees live? What do you know about them, and what is being done to help them survive and eventually return home?

5. When Daoud is in the small jail near Aswan, Egypt, with the old jailer, and he finds the Egyptian hundred-pound note in a pocket he had forgotten existed, he says that the note "was so folded and faded that I think it was waiting for me for a long time in that pocket, in the way that many things are waiting for us to be ready to receive them." What does Daoud mean by this? Can you describe how this could apply to your own life?

6. Daoud says at the end of the book that it is likely people are still being killed in Darfur and suffering in the camps as you read the book. What were the most recent events in Darfur when you read the book? How can you act to promote peace in Darfur and to help ensure that the refugees are returned to their land? What actions should the international community take?

7. Daoud uses his language skills to help his people in the only way he knows how - as a translator. Why is this role so important? How does this work help the people of Darfur? Others he knows have chosen to use guns. What do you think of this choice?

8. Daoud writes about how he had known for a long time that he could not help his family in the way his brothers had or as his father and grandfathers had before him. What do you think this means for tradition-based cultures like the one in Darfur? How has change of this kind happened in your own area, and what effect has it had?

9. Paul Salopek and Daoud have a complex relationship. Describe how they work together to help each other and Ali. Both Daoud and Paul have the opportunity to separate themselves from each other in captivity, which would have bettered each of their chances for survival. What would you have done in such a situation?

10. How does Daoud's concept of family change throughout the book? How is it redefined and enlarged? What role does his time in the various prisons play in this transformation?

11. Daoud is constantly breaking the rules for what he sees as a higher good. How does this relate to your life? How are you willing to break the rules and suffer the consequences in order to serve your higher values? How far would you go in order to pursue your ideals?

12. What are some of the ways in which Daoud deals with the emotional stress of Darfur's horrors? How does this differ from the ways in which you would deal with such trauma? How does our culture tell us to deal with trauma? Is a horrific news story played over and over on TV - for example, the attack on the World Trade Center - therapeutic as a way for our nation to share and understand this horror, or is it hurtful rather than helpful?

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