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The Land Without Shadows

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  28 ratings  ·  12 reviews
One of the first literary works to portray Djiboutians from their own point of view, "The Land without Shadows" is a collection of seventeen short stories. The author, Abdourahman A. Waberi, one of a handful of francophone writers of fiction to have emerged in the twentieth century from the "confetti-sized state" of Djibouti, has already won international recognition and p ...more
Paperback, 86 pages
Published November 14th 2005 by University of Virginia Press (first published 1994)
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Slow, like life in the desert city or villages the author describes. The book is composed of short vignettes or scenes that illustrate a mood, a place, a character. It is lethargic but sometimes poignant. The French is simple but I had to look up a lot of words, and was rewarded for the effort with word play that made me smile while reading. The book reads like the relaxed days under a paillote chewing khat and watching other people that Waberi so enjoyably manifests in the first story. Elders g ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I read this short book (only 80 pages of text, plus a 20-page introduction) for my world books challenge, as a book set in Djibouti. I’m not sure I really “got” it, hence the lack of rating. Though billed as a collection of 17 short stories, most of these pieces are better described as a description, or an extended metaphor. Other reviewers have referred to them as essays, but as most of them seem to exist in fictional space (though often without plot and sometimes even without real characters), ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-tour, temp
This is a collection of short stories from Djibouti. It was originally published in French as Le pays sans ombre. I read both versions and thought the French version was better and more poetic than the translation, which is a bit leaden in places, although the author collaborated and was presumably happy with it.
Nuruddin Farah says his favourite story from the collection is "The Seascape Painter and the Wind Drinker", it is a good one. I really liked "The Dasbiou Mystery", a playfully satirical
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read this in French. Short stories loosely linked. Surreal, macabre, poetic, what do you expect from the Horn of Africa? I loved his *Aux Etats-Unis d'Afrique* which is for some reason not on Goodreads. *Aux Etats-Unis...* has all the qualities of *Le Pays sans Ombres* but projected on Europe which is in this alternate history what Africa is in our reality. The story of Maya saved and raised by an Erithrean doctor without borders, who is now looking for her roots in the war-torn France is told c ...more
This collection of vignettes rather than stories presents a kaleidoscope of past and present life in Djibouti, a small country on the Horn of Africa that is characterized by a barren landscape and a hot climate that is hostile to human life.
As the majority of the textual pieces lack plot and do not provide much insight into the characters' minds, I had difficulty connecting with this collection the more so as I am not really familiar with French literature and,thus, cannot spot any references th
Tumelo Moleleki
Some of the stories I read but I can't say I know what they were about, only what I suspect they might have been about. Perhaps it is lost in translation. There's also a third of the book taken up by the translator and I guess the foreword or introduction person. I had no desire to read that. I enjoyed the first story, the one where someone suddenly spoke creole and the one where this woman fled an unwanted marriage. Not all the stories are based in Djibouti. Too much focus on Somalia but then t ...more
Mar 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: globalread
Global Read Challenge 80: Djibouti

These are shorter than short stories- more like microstories or extended thoughts. Some stories were as short as two pages. Some were very atmospheric, but mostly I found them hard to get into because they were so short.
Harry Rutherford
The Land Without Shadows is my book from Djibouti for the Read The World challenge. There are a few options available in French, but Waberi seems to be the only choice in English. Having read a few underwhelmed reviews of his novel, In The United States of Africa, I thought I’d try this collection of short pieces.

It seems to be broadly true that Francophone literature from Africa is much more overtly ‘literary’ than the English-language stuff; more playful, more given to formal and stylistic flo
May 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, east-africa
Poetic, fragmentary pieces that are sometimes stories, sometimes more like essays. I didn't know much about Djbouti before I read this, but I really got a sense from this not only about Djbouti, but about the view from inside a "third world" country, how people deal with the confusion of everyday corruption and incompetence and from lives that make sense. ...more
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
When thinking of Africa, most people think of lush vegetation, lions, zebras, elephants, people living peacefully in small villages. This book presents the gritty reality: the poverty and utter hopelessness of nations destroyed by European colonialism and interference, unable to return to their old way of life, but unable to adapt to the mess they have been left in.
Jul 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: cross-cultural
This book gave me a feel of Djibouti, a country whose name is appearing more frequently in the news. These are more like vignettes than actual short stories in the traditional sense. You get the feel of the landscape, the effect of colonalism and what has happened since the colonials left.
Sep 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a series of vignettes that I would call gems for their poetic nature,but hesitate to for the darkness to their content. Khat-tinged days, death, abuse, and indifference infuse these stories. I do hope that this is not all that Djibouti and the horn of Africa have to offer...
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