The Abyssinian Rimbaud

Haji Jabir

The Abyssinian Rimbaud is the untold story of a woman from the Harari people who was the companion of the nineteenth-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud during his final years in Ethiopia, although Rimbaud is silent about his lover in his letters to his mother. The novel gives her a name, voice, history and a memory, and through her we view Rimbaud from the perspective of the Ethiopians. The novel is centred on Harar, city of coffee and khat, the Mecca of Africa which non-Muslims were forbidden from entering. Enticing tales were told about the city, drawing travellers from all over the world, at a time when the great powers were reshaping the African continent. Rimbaud the Abyssinian also touches on the citizens’ pride in their descent from the Companions of the Prophet, before the Emperor Menelik invaded and plundered the city, and it lost its sacred shrine.  


Takween - Kuwait


2022 Longlist