The War of the Gazelle

Aisha Ibrahim

The War of the Gazelle tells the untold story of the foundational history of Libya, before the existence of cuneiform writing and hieroglyphics. The plot is built on the author’s interrogation of cave inscriptions and the mummy of a boy belonging to the Muhijiaj people, which precedes the mummies of the Pharaohs by two thousand years. Drawing on these, she explores Libyan history from the time when man ceased hunting and became settled, rearing animals and growing crops, focusing on the lives of the tribal peoples of the “Muhujia” kingdom – so named after the cave where the mummy was found in the extreme south-west of Libya. In this kingdom, Queen Tandrus ascends the throne after her brother dies in mysterious circumstances, and makes war on neighbouring tribes, to mark the boundaries of her power. The last of these wars is waged against the Maghiu tribes who have stolen the queen’s gazelle, an animal close to her heart with a special symbolism connected to her throne.


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2020 Longlist