First published in French in 2009, Passage of Tears is best described as an espionage thriller with an East African twist, though that description would hardly do justice to the genius that rests within its pages. Abdourahman A Waberi spins a yarn that hooks in elements of historical drama, political affairs and familial tension.
Eschewing the usual conventions associated with the spy genre, Waberi’s protagonist Djibril is as far as you can get from Bond or Bourne. Rather than M16 or the FBI, he reports back to an economic intelligence firm once he reaches his destination. Awaiting Djibril’s return to his homeland is the vengeful presence of his twin brother, Djamal, a man lost to religious fanaticism.
Unlike some other thrillers, things go exactly according to plan, although exactly in whose favour becomes anyone’s guess as the plot steadily thickens. Wabari employs a range of stylistic forms to add both mysticism and suspense, which deepen as each of the twins confronts his past in this highly accomplished and rewarding novel.