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In a time of war, what is the shape of love?

Silence is My Mother Tongue

Sulaiman Addonia

The young, headstrong Saba wants to go to school, whereas her brother Hagos is unable to speak, read and write. The siblings, who have an extremely close bond, both refuse to conform to the roles imposed on them by gender and society. With ‘Silence is My Mother Tongue’, Sulaiman Addonia has written a compelling, vivid novel about the everyday challenges, feelings, intimacy, hopes and fears of refugees in an East-African camp.

Riveting, mysterious, almost magical and delightfully chaotic
New York Times Book Review

Through intense, realistic characters, Addonia explores what it means to be a man or a woman, what it’s like to be an individual when you no longer have a home or a future. He dissects the ways society wages war on women and explores the stories we need to survive in a hostile environment. The rebellious characters symbolise the current refugee crisis, cultural norms and gender identity.

Addonia is a born storyteller, with a highly distinctive, dreamy language. The enchanting double portrait of Saba and Hagos gives us a brilliant glimpse into an exiled community that’s trying to establish a new home inside the camp. With its sensuous, intoxicating atmosphere, ‘Silence is My Mother Tongue’ is a unique and surprising novel.

Darkly poetic. Addonia maintains a strong voice with vibrant lyrical imagery.
Publishers Weekly
Gripping and courageous
The Guardian