In her dedication Safia Elhillo writes, “The January Children are the generation born in Sudan under British occupation, where children were assigned birth years by height, all given the birth date January 1.” What follows is a deeply personal collection of poems that describe the experience of navigating the postcolonial world as a stranger in one’s own land. The January Children depicts displacement and longing while also questioning accepted truths about geography, history, nationhood, and home. The poems mythologize family histories until they break open, using them to explore aspects of Sudan’s history of colonial occupation, dictatorship, and diaspora. Several of the poems speak to the late Egyptian singer Abdelhalim Hafez, who addressed many of his songs to the asmarani—an Arabic term of endearment for a brown-skinned or dark-skinned person. Elhillo explores Arabness and Africanness and the tensions generated by a hyphenated identity in those two worlds. No longer content to accept manmade borders, Elhillo navigates a new and reimagined world. Maintaining a sense of wonder in multiple landscapes and mindscapes of perpetually shifting values, she leads the reader through a postcolonial narrative that is equally terrifying and tender, melancholy and defiant.

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6.4

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Critic Reviews (4)

6.4
Weighted Avg. Adjusted by the addition of a statistical value.
Critic Score Distribution
Highest score:
Lowest score:
Average score:
8.0
6.0
7.3
  1. Positive: 3 Out of 4
  1. Mixed: 1 Out of 4
  1. Negative: 0 Out of 4
Critical Consensus: Good.
1

rashaunjallen.com

18 Apr 2017
7.0
"The collection only scratches the surface of what can come from Safia. Especially when identities of Muslim faith, African descent and womanhood are in constant crisis in the United States." ...
3

African Book Addict

26 Feb 2017
6.0
" Even though The January Children is complicated and not the easiest poetry collection to read, Elhillo shows immense talent of capturing emotion in a somewhat abstract way." ...
1

Poetry North West

27 Jun 2017
8.0
"Elhillo’s poems engage themes of Arab and African identity, migration, race relations, and the history of her native Sudan." ...
1

Muzzle Magazine

13 Jun 2017
8.0
"The January Children itself is a ballad and is, indeed, “a story older than water,” but it is as refreshing." ...

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SIMILAR Books

Published:

March 1, 2017

Publisher:

University of Nebraska Press

ISBN:

978-0-803-29598-8

Language:

English

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