B format paperback with flaps
27 June 2019
Cover design © House of Thought
Longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction
In a time of war, what is the shape of love?
Saba arrives in an East African refugee camp as a young girl, devastated to have been wrenched from school and forced to abandon her books as her family flees to safety. In this unfamiliar, crowded and often hostile community, she must carve out a new existence. As she struggles to maintain her sense of self, she remains fiercely protective of her mute brother, Hagos – each sibling resisting the roles gender and society assign.
Through a cast of complex, beautifully drawn characters, Sulaiman Addonia questions what it means to be a man, to be a woman, to be an individual when circumstance has forced the loss of all that makes a home or a future.
Addonia has written an insider’s view of the textures of life in a refugee camp. Both intimate and epic, this subversive tale of transgression dissects society’s ability to wage war on its own women and explores the stories we must tell to survive in a broken, in hospitable environment.
‘The exchange of masculine and feminine roles within the context of a sexually conservative culture makes for a gripping and courageous narrative.’
‘[A] richly written second novel, which brims with the sensory flavours of remembered experience.’
Jamil Jan Kochai for The New York Times, 15 September 2020: ‘In This Novel of Exile, Sulaiman Addonia Writes From Experience’
BellaNaija, 17 December 2019: ‘Book of the Month’
Sulaiman Addonia for Brittle Paper, 4 December 2019: ‘The Voices I Overcame To Write Silence Is My Mother Tongue’
Abubakar Adam for The Lagos Review, 17 November 2019: ‘Silence is My Mother Tongue: Review’
Preti Taneja for New Statesman, 13 November 2019: ‘Books of the year 2019’
Sulaiman Addonia for Granta, 23 October 2019: ‘In Search Of Beauty: Blackness As A Poem in Saudi Arabia’
Sulaiman Addonia for passa porta, 2 October 2019: ‘For Virginia Woolf’
Alessandra Bassey for Literandra, 21 September 2019: ‘Review: Silence is My Mother Tongue’
Alastair Mabbott for The Herald Scotland, 20 July 2019: ‘Paperbacks: A Breath On Dying Embers; Lying For Money; Silence Is My Mother Tongue’
BBC World Service, 16 July 2019: Sulaiman Addonia speaks about his writing journey, living with his grandma, the life of his mother, and the secret library in Saudi Arabia (27:41-44-31)
RFI, Africa: Stories in the 55, 27 February 2019: ‘Life and sensuality in a refugee camp in Sulaiman Addonia’s “Silence is My Mother Tongue”’
Ilham Essalih for The New Arab, 6 February 2019: ‘Silence is My Mother Tongue: Exile, survival and breaking the shackles of traditionalism’
Jane Housham for The Guardian, 14 December 2018: ‘Silence Is My Mother Tongue by Sulaiman Addonia review – life in exile’
Review 31, 12 December 2018: ‘Review 31’s Best Books of 2018′
Ainehi Edore for Brittle Paper, 3 December 2018: ‘#WeLoveBooks | Silence is My Mother Tongue by Sulaiman Addonia’
Sian Cain for The Guardian, 21 November 2019: ‘Murder, migration and mother love: the making of the novelist Sulaiman Addonia’
Jane Graham for The Big Issue, 6 November 2018: ‘Review: Silence is My Mother Tongue by Sulaiman Addonia’
Claire Allfree for Daily Mail, 1 November 2018: ‘Literary Fiction’
Susan Osborn for A Life in Books, 26 October 2018: ‘Silence is My Mother Tongue by Sulaiman Addonia: The quiet power of the novella’
Sulaiman Addonia for Granta, 23 October 2018: ‘Writing Like Degas Paints: Sulaiman Addonia on how Edgar Degas’ nude portraits inspired his latest novel, Silence is My Mother Tongue’
Emma Clarendon for Love London Love Culture, 6 October 2018: ‘Review: Silence is My Mother Tongue’