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Viajando con Djinns by Jamal Mahjoub

Viajando con Djinns (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Jamal Mahjoub

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352321,274 (3.56)26
Title:Viajando con Djinns
Authors:Jamal Mahjoub
Info:Madrid : Alfaguara, cop. 2004
Collections:Leídos, Read but unowned

Work details

Travelling with Djinns by Jamal Mahjoub (2003)



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Jamal Mahjoub was born in London to an English mother and a Sudanese father, raised in Khartoum and now lives in Barcelona. He’s a trained geologist, librarian, journalist and translator.

I can vouch that Mahjoub is also an exceptionally gifted novelist.
This book is about a man and his 7-year-old son setting out on a road trip across Europe. His wife has threatened divorce and this is his last opportunity to let his son know something about himself. The problem is, he is still coming to terms with his life and his past, growing up in the Sudan.

The trip takes them through Germany to Paris and on via Provence to Spain. The relationship between the father and son is beautifully portrayed, as father and son interact and get to know one another. Mahjoub is an intelligent writer and his prose is filled with interesting facts about the history of the different countries they pass through, as well as the Sudan.

The protagonist, Yasin is well-read, so he has lots of snippets about authors and books to share with Leo. Also, his mom loved movies, so there are lines and scenes from movies, which was great. This was a very entertaining, intelligent read. There were many heartfelt moments, balanced with very humorous ones. I loved this book! ( )
  akeela | Dec 23, 2009 |
Yamin is a British citizen of mixed Sudanese and Anglo British descent, whose wife, Ellen, has publicly announced at a gathering of her family in Denmark that she intends to divorce him. She decides to stay with her family, and Yamin drives back to Britain with their 8 year old son, Leo, in an old Peugeot sedan. Yamin decides to use this opportunity to explore Europe with Leo, and to try to explain to his son who he is and where he is from. However, Yamin does not truly understand himself, why he has made the decisions he has, including why he stayed with Ellen in a loveless marriage as long as he did, and what he intends to do with his life after he returns to the UK. The only thing he seems to be certain of is that he loves his son deeply, and that his life is all but meaningless without him.

The story of the journey is interspersed with vignettes of Yamin's life in the UK and Sudan, including his strained relationships with his family and Ellen's parents. Despite holding two passports, he is not comfortable in either country, and his discussions of his past life and experiences with Leo leave his son confused and angry.

Their journeys take them throughout Germany, to Paris, and onto the final and most eventful terminus of the trip.

This is a wonderful and complex story of a father's love for his son, rootlessness and belonging. It is frequently hilarious, and often puzzling, with several heartbreaking moments; I was nearly moved to tears on a couple of occasions. The ending was well written, but I wished to know more about what happened to Yamin and Leo. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. ( )
  kidzdoc | Aug 6, 2009 |
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"Yasin is driving through Europe in a dilapidated Peugeot 504 with his seven-year-old son Leo. He's not sure where they're going. He just knows he's thirty-seven years old, his wife is about to divorce him and this is his last chance to explain to his son who he is and where he comes from. The problem is that Yasin isn't sure of the answer to these questions himself. Born in the Sudan to an English mother and an Arab father, he has two passports but no national identity. When he met his English wife, he thought that love could transcend borders. Now he is coming to see that, wherever you travel, you take the ghosts of your past with you." "As he and Leo drift through Germany to Paris in search of Europe's history, and onwards via Provence to Spain to find Yasin's ex-lover and his lost brother, Yasin reflects on the tragi-comic ironies of his displaced life and the kind of mixed-up world his son will inhabit. When they finally wash up on the Costa Brava, once the border between the Christian and Muslim worlds, he and Leo are on the verge of separation but the brink of understanding."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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