‘Doors’ by Rania Mamoun, translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jacquette

Set in Khartoum, this debut collection in English by Rania Mamoun is one of my favourite books of recent years. Her narrative skill creates space for us to observe the characters, and her non-judgmental depiction of Life and lives is filled with humanity. In ‘Doors’ the main character is tantalised by the prospect of escape from poverty, but is ultimately reminded of his powerlessness and dispensability. In a few short sentences about the bus journey to a job interview we get a glimpse of the everyday chaos:

‘Get everyone in the doorway to move back into the bus, boy,’ shouted the driver. ‘Good lord, getting fined is the last thing we need this morning.’
As soon as the driver stopped speaking, the man felt himself being pushed by many hands and a struggle began.
‘Brothers, please, move all the way in, God bless…’
One man punched his neighbour, the person next to him stamped on another one’s foot, and a tall man was hunkered down so much it looked as if he were praying.
‘Guys, open the window… it’s hot, and meningitis is going around!’ someone yelled.

First published in translations in Thirteen Months of Sunrise, Comma Press, 2019, and available to read online here