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The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,564 ratings  ·  463 reviews
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, harro
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 18th 2008 by Random House (first published 2008)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,564 ratings  ·  463 reviews

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Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009, non-fiction
Let's get the controversial stuff out of the way first, shall we?

I feel that this book panders to soft-hearted Americans. There are numerous times Hari mentions how "good" the American people are. It is not that we aren't or that we are, or that Hari shouldn't be grateful (for, after all, Americans played a large part in saving his life and he now lives here), but this book as a whole doesn't read so much as a "memoir" as a causal glance backward, a highlight of a horrific scene here, a laugh th
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In late August, 2006, the National Geographic submitted this press release to news organizations: Paul Salopek, who was traveling in Africa to report on the culture and history of the Sahel [a semi-arid region between the Sahara Desert to the north and tropical forests to the south:] for National Geographic magazine, was detained by Sudanese authorities and on Aug. 26 charged with espionage in a North Darfur court in El Fashir, Sudan. National Geographic magazine vigorously protests this accusa ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Daoud Hari is a Zaghawa tribesman from the region known as Darfur in west Sudan. In 2003 his peaceful village life is shattered when government helicopters arrive, gunning down the villagers where they stand, followed by government-backed Arab militia on horses who murder, rape and burn their homes. The desired effect is achieved: the tribespeople are driven from their lands. Some make the long trek into neighbouring Chad, also Darfur territory, while others relocate, becoming "internally displa ...more
Kamila Kunda
“The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur”, which I chose to read in Polish purely because the cover was so much prettier than of all English editions, proved again that Polish translations from English so often suck. The language, though proper, sounds artificial and it impacted my reading experience (a note to myself: always choose the English version if that’s the original one).

The book is a slim memoir of selected events in the life of the author, Daoud Hari, the Sudanese translator an
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is heartbreaking. It's hard to imagine anyone having to endure this kind of suffering. But, of course, that's why this book was written. Daoud Hari wants to help us understand.

I complain when I have a bad day, when I have to wait 6 minutes for the Metro instead of 2, or when a book I want from the library is checked out. But, c'mon, I don't have really bad days. After reading his book you'll see that you probably don't really have bad days either.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book gave a rare glimpse of the Darfur genocide from the inside, as recounted by a man who grew up in the region and led Western journalists in to cover the violence. It was a very difficult and powerful read, as would be expected, and was also beautifully written with many gems about life in Sudan (for example, many details surrounding the author’s love of camels and the realities of trekking through the desert). It reminded me of The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between, which i ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: war, africa
The story takes place in Darfur in Sudan during a time of war. The author got lucky in that he was able to hook up with a journalist as a translator. Aside from that the book is mostly about man's inhumanity to man. It was interesting to read about what his childhood was like before the war and what the country was like. The book was published in 2008 so I did a search to find out what has been going on in the country since then and it sounds like progress has been made but there still is some s ...more
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, darfur, sudan
Daoud Hari has written a painful, unglossed but also celebratory novel of the Darfur region of Western Sudan, and with his understated approach, genuine character, and very unexpected humor, reminds us that Darfur was a place well before it was a tragedy.

This approach allows Hari to engage his readers on a personal level: he asks them to consider their response to losing their cities and their children; he reminds them of the simple connecting power of cellular telephones, and the vital necessit
May 21, 2010 rated it liked it
I've borrowed this book from my office's library.

Although its fun games during the launch, i've sceptically thought that this library will only loaded by some work field reports and thesis from the interns whom have their studies here. Then a few months ago, Perang Eropa III by P.K. Ojong was laying on the desk of someone which then said it was one of the library collection.

Darn!! I straight out went upstairs, to the library and facinated by the lines of fine books in its shelfs. Not just book
Thomas Holbrook
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memior
Finding accurate descriptors to relate this snapshot of a place and time as foreign to my experience as imaginable is a challenge. Heart-rending – there are moments detailed in this account of the war(s) in Sudan that left me feeling as if the oxygen had been sucked out of the room. Humorous – Mr. Hari’s gentle, welcoming spirit, tongue-in-cheek wit and “Gift of Gab” shine through on nearly every page. Frightening – to witness the rapid destruction of an ancient culture, even from the remotenes ...more
Jun 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The horrors of Darfur. Why do such things happen? And they have continued to happen throughout my life. The world just can't seem to prevent them.

The scene that was hard to shake out of my mind was when the author and a group of BBC reporters come upon a massacre of over 80 men and boys. They were hacked to death by machetes, so body part are everywhere. The reporters break down and cry. Some have to leave and seek professional help to deal with what they have just found.

European colonialist c
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Translator

The Translator by Daoud Hari is an autobiography story set in Darfur, a region of Sudan. It is an emotional book that tells the story of Daoud Hari. The story is told by first person narrator and it’s about the war in Darfur how people struggled and Daoud became translator.

Rebel groups were trying to move all non Arabic people from Sudan. They damaged all of their villages, many people were killed in front of their families. When the villages were burned by rebels villagers had
This is a difficult book to rate. While the structure is less than perfect, the story is powerful. The author talks about the internal war in Sudan where the Arab government has been killing the non-Arab citizens. The conflict was determined to be genocide and the President of Sudan indicted by the ICC. Hari tells about the war through his own personal experience, first as a young man returning home after years of working in other surrounding countries and then as an interpreter for reporters (N ...more
Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it
This is an intriguing book - simple prose that belies the horror of what's described, namely the many acts that add up to genocide. Hari manages to retain love, compassion and integrity despite the devastating consequences of civil conflict, the complete loss of humanity and the collapse of moral reason and action. Hari has experienced much, and survived, and through his commitment of bearing witness relentlessly works to ensure the world knows the truth of Darfur. All this for the simple hope t ...more
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, biography, sudan
How does anyone survive? Nothing is hospitable neither the inhumane climate nor the "human" society.

Daoud had a short adult life before this war. He got an education and saw some of the world through restaurant work. He spent some time in the prison systems which was merely prologue for what was to come.

Most teenage males are recruited by one army or another, and they join for a meal. For those with skills like driving, mechanics or languages, choices are more complex. They can join an army, a g
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
A short, simply written and compelling book. Something hard to rate but good for everyone to read. Here is an excerpt:

"It is interesting how many ways there are for people to be hurt and killed, and for villages to be terrorized and burned, and for children to die in deserts, and for young mothers to suffer. I would say that these ways to die and suffer are unspeakable, and yet they were spoken: we interviewed 1,134 human beings over the next weeks; their stories swirled through my near-sleeples
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book. All that I can think is - how can we human beings be so terrible?! And yet there are some, a few, that show we needn't continue behaving so badly. Some humans are capable of great courage, bravery and compassion. This book shows both sides. How can the trend be turned so that despicable behavior is no longer so easily accepted? Is it through education? Or is compassion genetically imprinted in just some of us? I have no answers. Genocide has occured and is continuing t ...more
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readin2008
Daoud Hari is from Darfur and as war came to his village his family encouraged him to fight not with a gun but with his education. With his ability to translate, Daoud worked to help as many journalist and government officials as possible tell the story of what was happening to his people and his country despite the very real threat to his own life. Yet I doubt that any reporter could tell the world the heartbreaking truth of the genocide that has and is occurring in Darfur as eloquently as Daou ...more
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the most moving books I've read in awhile. The Translator is a first-person account of genocide in Darfur. The author witnessed the slaughter of his village and his neighbors and risked his life to serve as a translator for foreign journalists. He was imprisoned and tortured. And yet he still believes in the inherent goodness of people and their desire to help. This book is a direct plea to help the victims of genocide in Darfur.
Becki Iverson
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is up with The Return in my list of favorites from my Around the World in 80 Books book club here on Goodreads. I found this such a good read; it was conversational, engaging, and extremely informative about the history of and life in Sudan. There was so much I didn't know about Sudanese history that directly impacts the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and seeing this history through Daoud's eyes really gives the Western reader an access that is totally lacking from press coverage of the crisis ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very good read. Mr Hari's memoirs of life in the Sudan gives light to one of the worst human genocide events of our time. His love of country and life speaks volumes as I turn the pages. This book will capture your attention. A must read for all attempting to gain a deep understand of life in a war torn and forgotten part of our world.
Susan Morris
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Powerful story of Darfur and what its people have suffered. When I’m feeling down about my own life, it’s a needed wake up to read about lives of others around the world. (Own)
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
The translator, Daoud Hari takes humanitarians and journalists into Darfur, using every skill and contact he has to keep them alive to tell of what they see. In the same way he takes the reader through the chaos and violence, and you must trust something of yourself to him as you follow Hari through the harrowing scenes of war. Fortunately his voice is warm with humour and he notices beauty wherever it can be found - the bright colours of clothing, bird song, family bonds and human kindness. Thi ...more
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio book, which is brilliantly read by Mirron Willis. The book conveys in the rawest terms the violence and human tragedy of Darfur. Hari helps us understand the ways of life in Darfur, both before the genocide, when he lived a traditional tribal life with his family, and after, when government troops and their allies lawlessly spread death and destruction and created refugees, living in squalid camps in Chad, of the survivors. This story also demonstrates how difficult it is ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Incredible memoir about the difference one man can make in the face of tragedy. This true story is nauseating and difficult to read at times because of the pain and hate inside some people, but somehow also lighthearted and uplifting.

For my sanity I will not focus on the terrible details of the actual story but rather on the role of language in this tale of triumphing humanity.

*Spoiler ahead...

A grieving father is given a traditional remedy for his broken heart. Words from the Quran are written
Tariq Mahmood
The book starts off very well, with a lot of details of the rural life of Sudan with a good description of the Arab and African native populations living side by side. The absolutely horrifying details of atrocities by the Sudanese and Arab militias made me cry. Ethnic cleansing is not an African issue as it has happened in Europe repeatedly as well. So there is a real purpose in the author's story which comes across well, until the long and tedious passages which detail his own incarceration by ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in war zones or translation issues
This book put a whole new perspective on the position of a translator in a war zone. In particular, the skills and challenges that a native speaker faces dealing with outsiders, international journalists, rebel groups, the army and border crossings.

I really enjoyed this account of one man's experience becoming and serving as a translator in Darfur. His own account of the suffering and impetus for his decisions is really compelling. This is a quick read and insightful without being too arduous t
daoud is from darfur in the sudan. once his village is raided and many of his family members killed, he flees to a refugee camp. it is here that he finds work translating for journalists traveling to darfur.

this is a story that must be told. and it is told beautifully here. there are lines that ring true yet are so simply stated. i felt the tragedy of this area of the world, but i didn't feel overwhelmed by the violence and grief. daoud states the events simply yet eloquently.

Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
Very good! The audio version kept me intrigued even though the topic is a tough one. There are a few graphic parts in the book that will make you cringe but it's important for us to know what really went on (and is still going on) in other parts of the world. I wish there had been more of an epilogue, I always want to know what everyone is doing now!! There is an appendix which simply explains how the Darfur conflict came to be so that is helpful.
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A definite MUST-READ. This book totally moved me and motivated me to be a better, more proactive person. I definitely reccommend it to anyone unfamiliar with the conflict in Darfur or anyone at all interested in what is happening NOW in our world.
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