The Translator: Book summary and reviews of The Translator by Daoud Hari

The Translator

A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur

by Daoud Hari

The Translator by Daoud Hari
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2008
    240 pages
    Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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Book Summary

"I am the translator who has taken journalists into dangerous Darfur. It is my intention now to take you there in this book, if you have the courage to come with me."

The young life of Daoud Hari – his friends call him David – has been one of bravery and mesmerizing adventure. He is a living witness to the brutal genocide under way in Darfur.

The Translator is a suspenseful, harrowing, and deeply moving memoir of how one person has made a difference in the world–an on-the-ground account of one of the biggest stories of our time. Using his high school knowledge of languages as his weapon–while others around him were taking up arms – Daoud Hari has helped inform the world about Darfur.

Hari, a Zaghawa tribesman, grew up in a village in the Darfur region of Sudan. As a child he saw colorful weddings, raced his camels across the desert, and played games in the moonlight after his work was done. In 2003, this traditional life was shattered when helicopter gunships appeared over Darfur’s villages, followed by Sudanese-government-backed militia groups attacking on horseback, raping and murdering citizens and burning villages. Ancient hatreds and greed for natural resources had collided, and the conflagration spread.

Though Hari’s village was attacked and destroyed his family decimated and dispersed, he himself escaped. Roaming the battlefield deserts on camels, he and a group of his friends helped survivors find food, water, and the way to safety. When international aid groups and reporters arrived, Hari offered his services as a translator and guide. In doing so, he risked his life again and again, for the government of Sudan had outlawed journalists in the region, and death was the punishment for those who aided the “foreign spies.” And then, inevitably, his luck ran out and he was captured. . . .

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Media Reviews

"A book of unusually humane power and astounding moral clarity: evenhanded but pointing a reproachful finger at all the right targets." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Starred Review. With parallels to works such as Paul Rusesabagina's An Ordinary Man (with Tom Zoellner) and John Bul Dau's God Grew Tired of Us (with Michael S. Sweeney), this wise and compelling autobiography is highly recommended for all public libraries." - Library Journal.

"The Translator, by Daoud Hari, a native Darfurian, may be the biggest small book of this year, or any year. In roughly 200 pages of simple, lucid prose, it lays open the Darfur genocide more intimately and powerfully than do a dozen books by journalists or academic experts. Hari and his co-writers achieve this in a voice that is restrained, generous, gentle and—astonishingly—humorous. He is not an Elie Wiesel or a Simon Wiesenthal speaking the unspeakable in words so searing as to be practically unbearable. I, for one, am grateful for that. In these times, when news of carnage and atrocity comes at us so insistently, Hari's tone allows the vastness of Darfur's suffering to seep into the reader's consciousness in a way that a raw, more emotional telling might not.

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