Haji Jaber

Haji Jaber


حجي جابر

Haji Jaber was born in Massawa, Eritrea, in 1976. He was raised in Saudi Arabia and now lives in Doha, Qatar, where he works as a journalist with Al Jazeera. By 2022 he had published five novels. His novels take place in Eritrea and in Ethiopia, as well as in Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Sudan. In his first novels, Jaber tackles issues related to the modern history of Eritrea, such as migration, diaspora, civil war and identity. In Black Foam, he revisits these topics with new issues, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the position of the Falasha in Israel. His latest work, The Abyssinian Rimbaud, is a historical novel that takes place in present-day Ethiopia, and revisits the theme of the colonial encounter between the West and “the Other”.

Though the phenomenon is not well-known, Eritreans have contributed to Arabic-language fiction for decades: the first novel in Arabic by an Eritrean author is Said Nawid’s Rihlat al-shita’: Salih (The Winter’s Journey: Salih, 1979). Since then, other Eritrean writers have published novels in Arabic: Ahmad ‘Umar Shaykh, Abu Bakr Hamid Kahhal, Abd al-Qadir Musallam, Hanan Muhamad Salih.

His Twitter account (in Arabic): twitter.com

© Twitter (personal account)
Date of birth : 1976
Country of birth: Eritrea
Country of residence: Qatar
Publisher(s): Dar Altanweer
Contact: Haji Jaber

Selected bibliography

  • رامبو الحبشي, The Abyssinian Rimbaud*, Dar Al Takween, 2021
  • رغوة سوداء, Black Foam, Dar Al Tanweer, 2018. English translation: Black Foam, Amazon Crossing, United States, 2023, trans. by Sawad Hussain and Marcia Lynx Qualey
  • لعبة المغزل, The Spindle Game*, Al Markaz Al Thaqafi Al Arabi, 2015
  • مرسى فاطمة, Fatima’s Harbour*, Al Markaz Al Thaqafi Al Arabi, 2013. Italian translation: Fuga dalla piccolo Roma, L’Arcolaio, Italy, 2018
  • سمراويت, Samrawit*, Al Markaz Al Thaqafi Al Arabi, 2012

*Working title


À l’évidence, le style tout en finesse du romancier, parmi les plus brillants de sa génération, qui réinvente les métaphores de la quête de l’être et de la liberté, est envoûtant (in French) by Mediapart, October 2021 (blog post)

Haji Jaber by The Short Story Project, October 2021

Eritrean Novelist Haji Jaber: On Writing the Stories of the Falasha Jews by ArabLit, January 2021 (interview)

Haji Jabir presenta in prima nazionale “Fuga dalla piccola Roma” (in Italian) by ForlìToday, October 2018

Haji Jaber by IPAF

Prizes and awards

  • The Abyssinian Rimbaud, longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2022
  • Black Foam longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2019
  • Black Foam (2018), winner of the Katara Arabic Novel Prize in 2019
  • The Spindle Game (2015), longlisted for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2016
  • Samrawit (2012), winner of the Sharjah Award for Arab Creativity in 2012

Book(s) featured on this site

Reviewed by Xavier Luffin