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Igiaba Scego’s Beyond Babylon: “an illuminating, courageous novel”

With an introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri, Beyond Babylon, translated by Aaron Robertson, tells the engrossing stories of two half-sisters who meet coincidentally in Tunisia, their mothers, and the elusive father who ties them all together.

Beyond Babylon is an epic for an era of migrants, border-crossings, and traumatic conflicts. Igiaba Scego’s virtuosic novel encompasses Argentina’s horrific dirty war, the chaotic final years of Siad Barre’s brutal dictatorship in Somalia—which ended in catastrophic civil war—and the modern-day excesses of Italy’s right-wing politics.

“[Scego] gives voice to multiple lives, experiences, and emotions either silenced or ignored by history. [Beyond Babylon] resembles no other Italian novel to have migrated thus far into English.” — from Jhumpa Lahiri’s introduction. Read an essay adapted from the introduction in the New York Review of Books.

“Though ten years have passed since the novel’s original publication in Italy, its wider political nuances don’t feel any less urgent….Beyond Babylon ultimately succeeds in rendering these on a human level – ‘within her story, the story of others before her and others after. The stories entwine, at times converging, often searching for one another. Each one united by a colour and a feeling’”.—The Times Literary Supplement

“A prolific writer of novels, short stories, and essays for Italian newspapers and magazines, Scego belongs to a group of contemporary authors of African descent who have been articulating fraught dynamics of belonging to Italian society and literature.” — Public Books

“What a wonderful, shocking, heartbreaking, exciting book, and how better to tell this story than through Aaron Robertson’s entrancing and pitch-perfect translation.” — Jennifer Croft, Man Booker International Prize–winning translator and author

Recommended in The New York Times’ “Globetrotting” feature of 2019 world literature.

An interview with Lahiri about the book is online at NYRB Daily.

Check out an excerpt from the book.

Order your copy now!