Rumble on the Nile

Rumble on the Nile

Nimeiri in the 1970s

10 August 2015 - Jamal Mahjoub

The first house we lived in after moving to Khartoum had an air of danger to it. There was something there that never felt right. A small rock garden by the entrance held over a dozen types of cactus. Some had big flat leaves, others furry yellow spines that stuck to your fingers and were impossible to remove. We were warned not to play there for fear of scorpions. It could have been a scorpion that killed the duck we kept in the back garden. We liked to think it was a snake after having discovered a sloughed off skin, dessicated and translucent, sitting on top of some dusty packing cases in the disused garage. Our cat staggered in one morning foaming at the mouth with rabies. There were dark corners in that house and it was overshadowed by the ghost of the previous occupant, a man who had managed to electrocute himself by carrying a standing lamp out onto the damp lawn one evening to read by.

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Jamal Mahjoub

was writer in residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) in Wassenaar from 1 February 2015 - 30 June 2015, upon invitation of the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the NIAS. During his residency Mahjoub worked on a non-fiction book about the history of Sudan, a Sebaldian mix of memory, reflection and philosophy.

Jamal Mahjoub (1960) is an award winning writer of mixed British/Sudanese heritage. Born in London, he was raised in Khartoum where the family remained until 1990. He was awarded a scholarship to study in England and attended university in Sheffield. He has lived in a number of places, including London, Liverpool, Khartoum, South Wales, Sheffield, Aarhus, Cairo and Barcelona. His wandering has given birth to a prolific body of work: seven books of literary fiction under his own name, including his first book Navigation of a Rainmaker and more recently The Drift Latitudes and Travelling with Djinns, and three crime novels as “Parker Bilal”. He writes in English. jamalmahjoub.com

Photo: Aisha Seeberg