Full of Books

Een kameel zonder bult by Jonas Hassen Khemiri Review

Title: Een kameel zonder bult

Author: Jonas Hassen Khemiri

First published January 1, 2003

222 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9789044505290

Rating: 3.31


Halim, a fifteen-year-old boy whose name means ‘the dreamer’, lives with his father in Stockholm. His father wants him to learn Swedish well to get better opportunities.

Because, as an Arabic saying goes, ‘a man without language is like a camel without a hump, worthless.’ But Halim develops a disgust for everything Swedish. A conversation with a fundamentalist Muslim woman confirms his suspicion that there is a conspiracy by the Swedish state against foreigners.

In response, he delves deeper into his Arabic background and begins to idealize it. In a solo mission, Halim starts an offensive against ‘Swedish domination’.

Dive into the world of Halim as he navigates his identity crisis and struggles to find his place in a foreign land.

About the Author

Born in 1978 to a Tunisian father and a Swedish mother, Jonas Hassen Khemiri had a diverse upbringing in Stockholm. He studied economics in Paris and was an intern at the UN in New York.

In 2003, he made a highly acclaimed debut with Ett öga rött/One Eye Red, which sold over 200,000 copies in Sweden and became the best-selling paperback of any category in 2004. For this work, Khemiri received the Borås Tidning award for best literary debut, which is Sweden’s most important award for a first book.

The film adaptation of Ett öga rött/One Eye Red will open in Swedish cinemas during the fall of 2007.

Khemiri’s second novel, Montecore, was published to unanimous critical acclaim in 2006. In strong international competition, it won the 2006 P O Enquist Prize.

Later the same year, Montecore was nominated for the August literary award. The book also won Sveriges Radio’s Romanpris award for best novel of 2007.

The listener jury’s motivation stated that “Jonas Hassen Khemiri leaves his mark on every single word in Montecore in an inspirational ‘transpiration’ of creativity. Montecore is a beautiful, melancholic but also wonderfully funny book that depicts Sweden in a unique light, making it hard to think of anyone who shouldn’t read it.”

Khemiri is also a highly praised playwright. His first play, Invasion!, was written for The Stockholm City Theatre and played two seasons of sold-out performances.

This debut also opened the doors for Khemiri to participate in Royal Court’s International Residency in London. His new play will open at Riksteatern in 2007.

Khemiri’s novels have been sold to Germany, France, The Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and Serbia.

Editoral Review

Een kameel zonder bult by Jonas Hassen Khemiri is a contemporary novel that explores themes of identity, culture, and language in a unique and thought-provoking way. Khemiri is a Tunisian-Swedish author, playwright, and screenwriter who is known for his innovative approach to storytelling and his bold exploration of complex social issues.

The novel tells the story of three generations of a Tunisian immigrant family living in Sweden. The main character, Amor, is a young man who is struggling to define his own identity in a world where he feels disconnected from both his Tunisian roots and his Swedish surroundings.

As he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, he grapples with questions of language, culture, and belonging, and ultimately learns to embrace his own unique identity. The novel is written in a distinctive and experimental style that blends different genres and forms of storytelling.

It features a mix of prose, poetry, and dialogue, as well as elements of magical realism and metafiction. This unusual approach to storytelling adds depth and complexity to the novel, and allows Khemiri to explore complex themes in a fresh and engaging way.

One of the strengths of Een kameel zonder bult is its rich and nuanced character development. Amor and his family members are complex and multifaceted, and Khemiri portrays them with empathy and sensitivity.

Through their experiences and interactions, the novel explores themes of generational conflict, cultural assimilation, and the search for identity in a multicultural world. The novel also touches on important social and political issues, such as racism, immigration, and the role of language in shaping identity.

Khemiri explores these issues in a nuanced and thought-provoking way, and the novel feels timely and relevant in today’s world. While the experimental style of the novel is one of its strengths, it can also be a challenge for some readers.

The mix of genres and forms may be confusing or disorienting for some, and the nonlinear narrative structure can be difficult to follow at times. However, for those who are willing to embrace the challenges of the novel’s style, the rewards are rich and plentiful.

Overall, Een kameel zonder bult is a remarkable and ambitious work of contemporary fiction. Jonas Hassen Khemiri is a talented and innovative writer who tackles complex social issues with empathy, intelligence, and creativity.

This novel is recommended for readers who enjoy experimental literature, nuanced character development, and thought-provoking explorations of identity and culture. It is a captivating and rewarding read that leaves a lasting impression.