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.
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