“[Halima Bashir’s] mesmerizing tale of against-all-odds endurance is a piercing lament—and a clear-eyed call to action.”—Vogue
“This memoir helps keep the Darfur tragedy open as a wound not yet healed.”—Elie Wiesel, author of Night
Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima Bashir received a good education away from her rural surroundings (thanks to her doting, politically astute father) and at twenty-four became her village’s first formal doctor. Yet not even Bashir’s degree could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her homeland. Janjaweed Arab militias savagely assaulted the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir’s village and surrounding areas, raping forty-two schoolgirls and their teachers. Bashir, who treated the traumatized victims, some as young as eight years old, could no longer remain quiet. But breaking her silence ignited a horrifying turn of events.
Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur. It is a survivor’s tale of a conflicted country, a resilient people, and an uncompromising spirit.
Praise for Tears of the Desert
“This is a brave book. And a valuable one. Halima’s story of the atrocities and immeasurable losses she has endured must be told.”—Mia Farrow, actor and advocate
“Vivid, poignant and brutally candid . . . Tears of the Desert is that rarest of literary endeavors, not just a book you read but a book you experience.”—The Washington Post Book World
“An extraordinary memoir . . . Halima Bashir’s bravery contrasts with the world’s fecklessness and failures.”—Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times
“Searing . . . Tears of the Desert gives voice to the unspeakable.”—USA Today
“Powerful, harrowing and brave.”—The Economist
“A luminous tale of growing up in rural Darfur . . . a wonderful and moving African memoir.”—The New York Review of Books
Two physicians bring women's issues in Darfur and Saudi Arabia into the examining room.Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in DarfurHalima Bashir, with Damien Lewis. Ballantine, $25 (336p) Writing with BBC correspondent Lewis (Slave), Bashir, a physician and refugee living in London, offers a vivid personal portrait of life in the Darfur region of Sudan before the catastrophe. Doted on by her father, who bucked tradition to give his daughter an education, and feisty grandmother, who bequeathed a fierce independence, Bashir grew up in the vibrant culture of a close-knit Darfur village. (Its darker side emerges in her horrific account of undergoing a clitoridectomy at age eight.) She anticipated a bright future after medical school, but tensions between Sudan's Arab-dominated Islamist dictatorship and black African communities like her Zaghawa tribe finally exploded into conflict. The violence the author recounts is harrowing: the outspoken Bashir endured brutal gang-rapes by government soldiers, and her village was wiped out by marauding Arab horsemen and helicopter gunships. This is a vehement cri de coeur "I wanted to fight and kill every Arab, to slaughter them, to drive them out of the country," the author thought upon treating girls who had been raped and mutilated but in showing what she suffered, and lost, Bashir makes it resonate.
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Tears in the Desert
Impossible to read in 1 or 2 sittings because it makes one so angry that time must be taken to walk off steam. It is so horrific & told so well that the reader is transported to Darfur and identifies with the desperate fear that a loving peaceful people experience. Should be required reading for prejudiced whites; they will gain so much respect for black capability. It doesn't make it easy to forgive or trust any Arabs.