UMBC logo

New Student Book Experience
2010 Selection

2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004


The Translator: A Memoir

by Daoud Hari


Nominated by Ms. Heather Linville, English Language Center

In this memoir, Daoud Hari recounts his experience living through the genocide in Darfur and as a translator for foreign journalists trying to inform the world of this tragedy. This book will challenge students to see a foreign tragedy through the eyes of someone who lived through it, and to feel compassion for another people on the other side of the world.  The book will undoubtedly spark great discussions about man's inhumanity to man and what the ethical and moral role of the world is in such occurrences. I recently read the book in one day and cannot stop thinking about it.  It is an easy read, written in a simple style accessible to readers of all levels, but is extraordinarily engaging even for highly-skilled readers. 


The committee recommends this book because:

This true story reads like a novel. It is written in an easy-to-read, straightforward style with short, engaging chapters. It speaks honestly and directly about the horrors of the conflict in Darfur. The action takes place in the recent past during the time Hari is a young man and through his twenties. Hari leaves his tribe to continue his education and his love of language and literature is woven through the story. It is his mastery of English that allows Hari to become a translator for journalists and human rights workers and through this to make friends from around the world.

The story is a universal one of inhumanity and of those who stand against it. Although nearly all incoming students will have heard about “the crisis in Darfur” many will not know anything more. The book includes maps, a short history of the conflict, and an up-close view of forces and actions that make up the crisis, as well as the personal story of one man and his family. It could be helpful for new students to go through the process of learning something more about a topic they have heard about in the news – to go beyond the headlines.

From Publishers Weekly

"Unique," a word avoided by most journalists, is just the first to describe this heart-stopping memoir, written by a native Darfuri translator who, after escaping the massacre of his village by the genocidal Janjaweed, returned to work with reporters and UN investigators in the riskiest of situations. Taking readers far from their comfort zones, Hari charts the horrific landscape of genocide in the stories of refugee camp survivors: "It is interesting how many ways there are for people to be hurt and killed, and for villages to be terrorized and burned... I would say that these ways to die and suffer are unspeakable, and yet they were spoken: we interviewed 1,134 human beings over the next weeks." …Throughout, Hari demonstrates almost incomprehensible decency; those with the courage to join Hari's odyssey may find this a life-changing read. A helpful appendix provides a primer on the Darfur situation.