Mauritanian writer Mohamedou Ould Slahi is known for his international bestselling memoir Guantanamo Diaries, which was written and published while he was detained at the Guantanomo Bay Detention Camp. With his second book, he turns to fiction. His debut novel, titled The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga centers on the powerful bond between a Bedouin man and his lost camel. The book will be published by Ohio University Press in its Modern African Writers series.

In an official statement shared via email, the Press states that the novel is set for release in February 2021.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s debut novel, The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga, is slated for a February release from Ohio University Press. The Mauritanian author is known internationally for his bestselling Guantánamo Diary, the harrowing account of his efforts to survive his fourteen-year imprisonment and torture at the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The forthcoming book will be the newest in the publisher’s Modern African Writing series. Slahi’s epic tale follows a Bedouin man on a quest to find a beloved lost camel and to preserve his way of life amid profound change. The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga is—literally and figuratively—a story about survival against crushing odds.

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Booker Prize Shortlistee Maaza Mengiste has lots of nice things to say about the book:

Wise, loyal Ahmed goes to search for his missing camel, Zarga. It is a journey that begins innocently enough, but Slahi’s expansive imagination transforms it into an epic voyage across terrain both geographical and spiritual. At once compassionate and full of wisdom, this unforgettable novel also showcases Slahi’s sharp-eyed, irreverent wit. Ahmed’s story held me rapt. It is a generous reminder of the goodness and love that still exists in the world, no matter the darker forces at the edges.

The book must be worth reading if Mengiste describes it as “unforgettable.”  Slahi’s novel is also a chance for English readers to expand their literary palette. It’s not everyday that we encounter a fiction by Mauritanian writers.

With this publication, Mohamedou Ould Slahi joins the company of writers such as Eghosa Imasuen, Billy Kahora, Chuma Nwokolo, Tendai Huchu, Imraan Coovadia, and Mukoma wa Ngugi who have also been published in Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writers series.

Slahi’s bestselling memoir, Guantánamo Diary (2015), has also been produced into a film starring Tahar Rahim, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jodie Foster. The film titled The Mauritanian is set to release in February 2021 as well.

Congratulations to Mohamedou Ould Slahi!