A startlingly imaginative exploration of the African diaspora in Europe, by one of our most acclaimed international writers.
Award-winning author Helon Habila has been described as "a courageous tale teller with an uncompromising vision…a major talent" (Rawi Hage). His new novel Travelers is a life-changing encounter with those who have been uprooted by war or aspiration, fear or hope.
A Nigerian graduate student who has made his home in America knows what it means to strike out for new shores. When his wife proposes that he accompany her to Berlin, where she has been awarded a prestigious arts fellowship, he has his reservations: “I knew every departure is a death, every return a rebirth. Most changes happen unplanned, and they always leave a scar.”
In Berlin, Habila’s central character finds himself thrown into contact with a community of African immigrants and refugees whose lives previously seemed distant from his own, but to which he is increasingly drawn. The walls between his privileged, secure existence and the stories of these other Africans on the move soon crumble, and his sense of identity begins to dissolve as he finds that he can no longer separate himself from others’ horrors, or from Africa.
A lean, expansive, heart-rending exploration of loss and of connection, Travelers inscribes unforgettable signposts—both unsettling and luminous—marking the universal journey in pursuit of love and home.
About the Author
Helon Habila is the author of Oil on Water, Measuring Time, Waiting for an Angel, and The Chibok Girls. He is associate professor of creative writing at George Mason University and lives in Virginia with his wife and three children.
Once I started reading Travelers, I couldn’t stop. It’s an unsettling book that faces the urgent questions of our times and doesn’t settle for easy answers. Yet the resilience of the characters, the mature decision to avoid melodrama, gives us a novel full of hope and wonder, tied to fully realized characters that as readers, we come to care about. I loved this book. It is indeed Habila at his best.
— Leila Aboulela, author of The Kindness of Enemies and Elsewhere, Home
Urgent, deeply empathetic, and resisting easy answers, Travelers follows the interconnected lives of African immigrants and refugees in Europe and examines the meanings of freedom, diaspora and home. Habila is a masterful storyteller, and this novel a riveting testament to the power of fiction.
— Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers
A moving and eye-opening novel that captures our global political moment and plumbs the many layers of life in exile, of people who are forever bereft in their 'traveling'. Helon Habila writes with the eye of a journalist, the tools of an artist, and the heart of a sober and compassionate witness.
— Vu Tran, author of Dragonfish
At once intimate and expansive, Travelers captivated me from the very first pages.
— Aminatta Forna, author of Happiness and The Memory of Love
I enjoyed Travelers immensely. Habila has written a pressure cooker of a story, an urgent novel that contends with the rootlessness of our world.
— Elliot Ackerman, author of Waiting for Eden
Unforgettable. Helon Habila writes of individual lives—pulled apart by our wars, our failed states and our deepest fears—with insight and searing compassion.
— Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Habila evokes the visceral, heartbreaking anguish of the outsider's dilemma…Guaranteed to promote empathy and understanding for refugees worldwide.