Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin

Portrait Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin
© Wolfgang Tanner

Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin was born in 1963 in Kassala, East Sudan. His family is originally from Darfur. He studied business administration in Asyut, Egypt. Upon returning to Sudan, he initially worked as a secondary school teacher. From 2000 to 2007 he worked for the NGO Plan International Sudan.

Sakin has said that Edgar Allan Poe’s horror tales inspired him to write while he was still at school. Around 2000, he emerged as a writer. Although most of his books are banned in his home country, allegedly for being too sexually overt among other reasons, his works are secretly traded and circulated digitally – as PDFs, for instance – and thus still reach a wide audience. In October 2012, governmental authorities had his books removed from the book fair in Khartoum and – once again – detained Sakin temporarily. Due to increasing repressions by the Islamist regime, Sakin was forced into exile and sought asylum in Austria in 2012. As one of Sudan’s most eminent authors, his books attract considerable interest. Even if his work addresses the concrete problems and conflicts in his homeland, he avoids taking a pedagogical-didactic tone, choosing a poetic and tenderly humorous language instead. At the same time, he succeeds in giving readers an understanding of the complex tensions and conflicts that govern his homeland. Thus the short story collection »At the Peripheries of Sidewalks« (2005) and the novel »The Jungo. Stakes of the Earth« (2009) describe the life and terrible fate of seasonal laborers in East Sudan. In »The Messiah of Darfur« (2013); Sakin examines the conflict in the west of the country. The protagonist of »Alkchandris. Wer hat Angst vor Osman Bushra?« (tr. Alkchandris. Who’s afraid of Osman Bushra?), first published in German in 2012, tells of a social worker who advocates for homeless children addicted to alcohol as a result of their plight. »Der magische See« (tr. The magical lake), published in 2014, was a collaboration between Sakin and the inhabitants of Saalfelden am Steinernen Meer, Austria, where he currently lives. The slim and beautifully designed volume is about three young women from Saalfeld, who dream that they have turned into birds and are watching their home town gradually disappear into a big lake.

When he was asked what motivates him to keep writing in the face of such adversity, Sakin said: »I write to exorcise the fear of war.« In 2009 he was awarded the prestigious Altayeb Salih Prize for Creative Writing. Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin lives in Saalfelden am Steinernen Meer, Austria.