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ISBN: 978-1-931883-89-4
Pages: 278
Size: 5 X 8
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Distributed By: Publishers Group West
Johannes Anyuru is a poet, novelist, and playwright. He debuted in 2003 with the critically acclaimed collection of poems Only The Gods Are New. They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears was awarded the August Prize and film rights have been acquired by Momento Film. Anyuru's work has been likened to a mix between Nobel Laureate Thomas Tranströmer and a hip-hop MC.
Translator
Saskia Vogel has written on the themes of gender, power, and sexuality for publications such as Granta, the White ReviewThe Offing, and the Quietus. Her translations include work by leading female authors, such as Katrine Marçal, Karolina Ramqvist, and the modernist eroticist Rut Hillarp. Vogel's debut novel, Permission, appeared in 2019.

They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears

by Johannes Anyuru
Translated from Swedish by
Saskia Vogel
$19.50 $22.95

Winner of the prestigious August Prize for Best Work of Literary Fiction

 

“Between the past, the present and future, Johannes Anyuru weaves a novel of powerful elegance, which speaks of the madness we’re approaching and a way, perhaps, of escaping it.” 

Le nouveau magazine littéraire

 

They Will Drown is a political pamphlet, futuristic dystopia and a personal book of thoughts at the same time. . . . The novel becomes an almost physical experience—a punch.”

– Goteborgs-Poste

In the midst of a terrorist attack on a bookstore reading by Göran Loberg, a comic book artist famous for his demeaning drawings of the prophet Mohammed, one of the attackers, a young woman, has a sudden premonition that something is wrong, changing the course of history. Two years later, this unnamed woman invites an acclaimed writer to visit her in the criminal psychiatric clinic where she lives. She then shares with him an incredible story—she is a visitor from an alternate future where any so-called “anti-Swedish” citizens are forced into a horrific ghetto called The Rabbit Yard. As events begin to spiral and the author becomes more and more implicated in this woman’s tale, he comes to believe the unbelievable: she’s telling the truth.

A remarkably intense, beautifully wrought tale that combines the ingenuity of speculative fiction with today’s harsh political realities, They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears catapults Anyuru to the front ranks of world writers.

Praise

“Walter Benjamin meeting Paul Virilio, meeting Donna Haraway, it is streams of consciousness full of verve and slang.”       — Aftonbladet

“In imagining a future already at our doorstep, [Anyuru] describes ‘a Sweden that Sweden had created to purify itself.’ A land where fear and racism justify everything, including the very worst. . . . This disturbing text is discomforting in the face of the dangers of our times. But maybe another look would be beneficial, before it’s too late.”       — Livres Hebdo

“[Anyuru] finds his way into the hardest questions of today without backing off, bursting the surface of the paralyzing fear of terrorism.”       — Abedet

Johannes Anyuru is a poet, novelist, and playwright. He debuted in 2003 with the critically acclaimed collection of poems Only The Gods Are New. They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears was awarded the August Prize and film rights have been acquired by Momento Film. Anyuru's work has been likened to a mix between Nobel Laureate Thomas Tranströmer and a hip-hop MC.
Translator
Saskia Vogel has written on the themes of gender, power, and sexuality for publications such as Granta, the White ReviewThe Offing, and the Quietus. Her translations include work by leading female authors, such as Katrine Marçal, Karolina Ramqvist, and the modernist eroticist Rut Hillarp. Vogel's debut novel, Permission, appeared in 2019.
Excerpt from the book

I rested my head in my hand, not taking my eyes off the screen, and said, “Sometimes when we meet, I see the great darkness she’s carrying. Like she actually comes from…” I couldn’t finish the sentence.

“The future?” Isra asked, and as she said it, I heard the madness that had crept into me unnoticed.

“Not from the future,” I said. “But from a holocaust.”

Isra sounded pensive.

“James Baldwin and Audre Lorde were in conversation once,” she said. “Baldwin said something about the American Dream, that both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X had believed in it, in spite of everything. Something like that. Then Audre Lorde said no one had dreamed about her ever, not once. No one dreamed about the black woman except to figure out how they would eradicate her. When I read the girl’s account I wondered if that’s what it’s like for Muslims in Sweden today. No one but Daesh dreams of us.”

On the screen, Hamad still had his pistol raised. The rain was suspended around him, like silver light, a shattered mirror. 

Isra went back to bed, but I stayed put. I wondered what dreams were being dreamed of me. 

The Hondo film. I clicked on the sequence where Amin was laughing. Through the balaclava, his eyes looked happy, if touched by madness.

Göran Loberg had seen the images from Abu Ghraib and al-Mima and laughed. 

Why was a man standing on a stool with electrical wires fixed to his groin and nipples? Maybe the answer was “Because it was being staged, because someone had a camera.” Maybe the film was reason enough, maybe the film was the precedent for the events.

Why put a dog collar on a Muslim? Why was a man, dressed in a sweat-stained T-shirt, riding a naked Muslim who was on all fours? There’s an answer that allows us to forget the question: These things happened because they thought Muslims were ridiculous. Laughable. On-screen Amin was still giggling, but he was shaking his head and even gently stomping his foot.

First came the unbelievable; then the guffaw.

Maybe that’s what Göran Loberg’s drawings were expressing, and maybe that’s why I experienced them as being so violent, even though they were mere strokes of ink.

I propped my elbows on the table. Felt sullied by the light of the screen. I started crying. I was seized by an incredible longing for Toronto, which I hadn’t visited since my daughter was born. I longed for the city’s chestnut trees, the sycamores in Rouge Park, for my sister, in whose face I could still see Mom. 

Amin stared at me from the screen, laughing.

In Abu Ghraib, and maybe also in al-Mima, the victims were forced to partake in the production of the very images that made the violence possible. The gaze was a necessary part of both the torture and the terror attacks. My gaze. I shut my eyes, hard. 

A war in which the gaze, our most tender touch, had been weaponized.

Amin laughed. 

Why is a soldier building a pyramid of living people? Why is a prisoner being smeared in feces?

Isra would say that we were living in a time where every stone in the world had witnessed enough human cruelty to burst into shards.

I remembered something the girl from Tundra had written, about how the Rabbit Yard was the place from which they spent all their time looking out at Sweden, and that was why they hadn’t seen the camp. Something like that. The camp had been invisible, because it was right beneath their feet.