Bloomsbury to Publish A Line in the River Khartoum, City of Memory by Jamal Mahjoub

‘A travelogue and memoir to rank alongside anything by Chatwin or Thubron’ Jim Crace
‘A most absorbing and rewarding book’ Michael Palin
A moving portrait, part history, part memoir, of Sudan – once the largest, most diverse country in Africa – and its self destruction.

In 1956, Sudan gained Independence from Britain. On the brink of a promising future, it instead descended into civil war and conflict, including the crisis in Darfur that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and driven many more from their homes.

When the 1989 coup brought a hardline Islamist regime to power, Jamal Mahjoub’s family were among those who fled. Almost twenty years later, he returned to a country on the brink of rupture.

Rediscovering the city in which his formative years were spent, Mahjoub encounters people and places he left behind. The capital contains the key to understanding Sudan’s divided, contradictory nature and while exploring Khartoum’s present its changing identity and shifting moods; its wealthy elite and neglected poor – Mahjoub also delves into the country’s troubled history, one turbulent with the rivalry between Christians and Muslims. His search for answers evolves into a thoughtful meditation on the meaning of identity, both personal and national.

A Line in the River combines lyrical and evocative memoir with a nuanced exploration of a country’s complex history, politics and religion. The result is both captivating and revelatory.

  • For fans of Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City (20,000 TCM), Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers (30,000 TCM) and William Dalrymple’s In Xanadu
  • South Sudan is the first county in six years that the UN has declared to be in famine. This book is timely and important.
  • Jamal Mahjoub was born in London, before being raised in Khartoum.
  • Fleeing Sudan after the coup of 1989, he eventually came to England, before moving to Amsterdam. He combines the perspective of an outsider and of a native.

“Jamal Mahjoub’s absorbing portrait of Khartoum is equally as intimate and painfully detached as the writer’s own relationship with his birthplace. Both his city and his book are enthralling in their complexities and their subtlety. A Line in the River provides an enticing first encounter for those readers who have never seen the confluence of the Niles – but it is also an affecting and heartfelt reminder, for those of us who have passed time in Khartoum, why it is we long and fear for it so deeply. I have been waiting
more than fifty years for this book” – Jim Crace

Author Biography

Jamal Mahjoub was born in London and spent his formative years in Khartoum, Sudan. Since then he has settled in a number of cities, including London, Aarhus, Barcelona and, more recently, Amsterdam. 

The author of seven novels, his work, fiction and non-fiction, has been critically acclaimed and widely translated. He has published six crime novels featuring private detective Makana, using the pen name Parker Bilal.

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