3 out of 4 stars
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Seven Strangers In Town was written by Ahmad Al-Malik. It was translated to English by Abdil Babikir. This book falls under the genre of other fiction. Its setting is in Sudan, Africa. The setting reveals much about the culture of the local people. I would say that this book is a social satire, with a healthy dose of humor and romance.
The main character is Sergeant Abdel Hai. Sergeant Hai is in charge of looking after insurgents who are arrested by the Government Army Forces. On this fateful day, an insurgent is brought in. Sergeant Hai had bought some ‘arrack’, a local brew, and he drinks too much. In an attempt to be kind to the prisoner, who is to be executed by the firing squad in the morning, he gives him a glass of the brew. The two get drank. They begin having a lengthy conversation. Sergeant Hai reveals some of his secrets to the prisoner knowing that he was going to be executed. However, shortly afterward, Hai falls asleep near the cell. The prisoner rummages through his pockets and gets the key. He opens the door of the cell and escapes. What will Sergeant Hai do when he wakes up? Will the prisoner manage to escape?
The rest of the story is very interesting. I like the fact that the author has a good diction. Various linguistic devices have been used in the book. The characters are well developed. However, some of the characters have a little impact on the story. I also enjoyed reading every conversation in the book. The conversations are full of humor. Through the conversations, one gets to know the challenges facing this society.
The book reveals a lot of realities. For example, the Government arrests people who are innocent. These people are labeled as insurgents. They are executed mercilessly. The Government also burns villages. The excuse given is that these villages are hiding places for insurgents. The plight of the ordinary citizen is also brought out clearly. For example, the cost of living is high, and the medical services are poor. It is shocking to note that the Head of Security Service keeps on acquiring luxurious cars, while a hospital does not have a single ambulance to transport patients and pregnant women, who develop delivery complications, to a better-equipped hospital.
However, the plot is poorly developed. For example, the first chapter ends with the section where the prisoner has escaped. However, the succeeding chapter takes the reader back to where Hai is drinking. This makes it hard to figure out where this scene fits. It is difficult to tell whether the chapter comes before or after the prisoner escapes.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. This is due to the poor development of the plot. There are a few typos also. However, these typos do not affect the flow of the story. Generally, this is a remarkable story. In my opinion, this book should be read by those who are over fifteen years old.
Seven Strangers in Town
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