BLACK FOAM By Haji Jabir


BLACK FOAM By Haji Jabir

From award-winning Eritrean author Haji Jabir comes a profoundly intimate novel about one man’s tireless attempt to find his place in the world. Longlisted for the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Haji Jabir, the award-winning Eritrean author, is one of the most significant Arabic-language authors writing today. In BLACK FOAM, he weaves together a poignant tale about identity, belonging, refugees and racism that will resonate with many readers long after the last page is turned. Longlisted for the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, one of the most prestigious prizes for fiction in Arabic, BLACK FOAM will be published for the first time in English, translated by Sawad Hussain and Marcia Lynx Qualey (February 7, 2023; Amazon Crossing, by arrangement with the African Literary Agency).

With a unique poetic writing style, Jabir focuses on a community of Ethiopian Jews who move to Israel, and he creates a protagonist, Dawoud, who is on the run from his murky past, aiming to discover where he belongs. He tries to assimilate into different groups along his journey through North Africa and into Israel, changing his clothes, his religious affiliations, and even his name to fit in, but the safety and peace he seeks remain elusive. It seems prejudice is everywhere, holding him back, when all he really wants is to create a simple life he can call his own. A chameleon, Dawoud―or David, Adal, or Dawit, depending on where and when you meet him―is not lost in this whirl of identities. In fact, he is defined by it.

Dawoud’s journey is circuitous and specific, but the desire to belong is universal. Spellbinding to the final page, BLACK FOAM is both intimate and grand in scale, much like the experiences of the millions of people migrating to find peace and safety in the twenty-first century.


Haji Jabir is an Eritrean novelist who was born in the city of Massawa on the Red Sea Coast in 1976. He currently lives in Doha, Qatar, where he works as an Al Jazeera journalist. Jabir’s creative aim is to shed light on Eritrea’s past and present and to extricate his homeland from its cultural isolation. He is one of the most important Arabic-language authors of his time.