Khalid by Marlon James
This has been an article about Khalid. Khalid, can you spot a similarity to anyone? For a few pages and nine months it’s all we have to go on, but the truth is not always as simple as that.
Khalid is the name of a series of books by Marlon James. Khalid is one of the most successful Arab novels ever written. It was translated into English by Lionel Shriver and published in 1987. In each book the author takes a journey through different countries and cultures and a few chapters in each novel concentrate on a single character and how he or she relates to others.
Marlon James was born in Egypt and spent much of his childhood there. As a young man he became interested in the conflict in Israel and the Palestinians and decided to travel to Israel to see for himself and wrote his first book about his experiences when he returned home.
The Arab refugees who moved to Israel were poor people who had lost everything and are a typical group that we know so well today. One in six of the refugees in Israel came from the Sudan, which is perhaps the worst country in the world for AIDS, malaria and other deadly diseases.
A few years later Marlon James returned to the Sudan and found the same poverty and misery there. His only conclusion was that the concept of the Holocaust was a fiction and that every child was lucky to survive. He turned to writing fiction and the rest is history.
So how close does Khalid and Marlon James share the same human experience? Khalid started out in Egypt as a convict but soon changed his name when he became a refugee and moved to Israel. The imprisonment he suffered in Egypt is probably quite a distant memory, if one remembers anything at all. However, Marlon James’ childhood in Egypt is very well documented.
Khalid is the kind of work that will keep readers hooked, even though they have read Marlon James’s previous novels. For example, the graphic description of the torture and murder of a prisoner is very well put together and creates the feeling of horror and terrible conflict with the help of an unusual style.