Silence is my Mother Tongue by Sulaiman Addonia

Silence is my Mother Tongue

Sulaiman Addonia

This is one powerful book! A coming of age story which challenges cultural conventions of gender and sexuality. Saba and her family have been uprooted from their comfortable existence to the harsh reality of life in a refugee camp. Whilst I thought it had the feel of a young adult novel, there is a high sexual content, including scenes that make for very uneasy reading. Harrowing, yet hopeful, with a feisty character at its heart.

Extract

Every woman, her grandmother told her once, carries an ideal man in her heart, someone who made the challenges of being born a girl a little bit easier. Hagos was that man for Saba. They linked each other's worlds. He carried out domestic chores, bought her clothes and shoes, took care of her hair, all while she focused on her studies.
But she too sacrificed something for Hagos. She allowed herself to be turned into the woman he carried within him. She could see it in the way he dressed her, styled her hair, trimmed her nails, painted her fingernails.
They were a match, he and she the other of the other.

Parallels
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  • Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck
  • Beverley Naidoo by The Other Side of Truth
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Violence
Explicit sexual content