Rimbaud the Abyssinian

Rimbaud the Abyssinian
(working title)
رامبو الحبشي
(Rambu al habashi)

Written by

(حجي جابر)

Published by


Rimbaud seen through the eyes of his Abyssinian lover

Arthur Rimbaud, the celebrated 19th century French poet, stopped writing poetry at the age of 20, and began a new life travelling. In 1880, he went to Aden, Yemen, and then to Harar, Ethiopia, where he spent most of the rest of his short life. In this novel, Haji Jaber describes the tumultuous life of Rimbaud (renamed ‘Abd Rabbo in Arabic, the servant of his Lord) in East Africa, beginning with his last days in the city, seen through the gaze of his lover, a young Christian Abyssinian woman. Although this Abyssinian woman existed, little is known about her. Jaber calls her Almaz, and brings her to life. The reader discovers who Almaz might have been, as well as the destiny of the city of Harar, Ethiopia, and East Africa under the growing pressure of European colonial powers.

Foreign rights: contact the author


Translation samples

Reasons to publish this book

Eritrean literature is largely unknown in Europe, and the presence of Eritrean authors writing in Arabic even less so. Discovering this rich literature via the tumultuous life of a well-known French poet depicted by his local lover is even more intriguing. It could attract fans of Arabic literature, African literature, as well as fans of Rimbaud, who was both a poet and an adventurer.

Prizes and awards

  • Longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2022


Interview with Haji Jaber by International Prize for Arabic Fiction website, February 2022

Habi Jabir parle avec l’Abyssinienne de Rimbaud by Mediapart, October 2021

Reviewed by Xavier Luffin