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Travelers by Helon Habila
Poignant and beautifully sculpted, a novel about exile, identity and the many kinds of travellers moving through our modern world – from the Caine Prize-winning author of Oil on Water and Waiting for an Angel
Modern Europe is a melting pot of migrating souls: among them a Nigerian American couple on a prestigious arts fellowship, a transgender film student seeking the freedom of authenticity, a Libyan doctor who lost his wife and child in the waters of the Mediterranean, and a Somalian shopkeeper trying to save his young daughter from forced marriage. And, though the divide between the self-chosen exiles and those who are forced to leave home may feel solid, in reality such boundaries are endlessly shifting and frighteningly soluble.
Moving from a Berlin nightclub to a Sicilian refugee camp to the London apartment of a Malawian poet, Helon Habila evokes a rich mosaic of migrant experiences. And through his characters’ interconnecting fates, he traces the extraordinary pilgrimages we all might make in pursuit of home.
Poet and prose fiction writer Helon Habila studied Literature at the University of Jos and lectured for three years at the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, before going to Lagos to write for Hints Magazine.
Extracts from his collection of short stories, Prison Stories, were published in Nigeria in 2000. The full text was published as a novel in the UK under the title Waiting for an Angel in 2002 and received a Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region, Best First Book) in 2003. Also in 2002, he moved to England to become a Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia. Helon Habila won the MUSON Poetry Prize in 2000 and was the arts editor of the Vanguard Newspaper.
In 2005 Habila was invited by Chinua Achebe to become the first Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, New York. He spent a year writing and teaching at Bard, and after his fellowship, Habila stayed on in America as a professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
His second novel, Measuring Time, the tale of twin brothers living in a Nigerian village, was published in 2007, and his latest novel is Oil On Water (2010), shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region, Best Book). In 2015 Helon Habila won the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for literary achievement.