A Boston Globe Best Book of 2019
“This is the answer to the question of what contemporary fiction can do.” —Edward Docx, Guardian
Accompanying his wife on a prestigious arts fellowship in Berlin, a Nigerian scholar finds there are no walls between his privileged, secure existence and the stories of others in the African diaspora, including a transgender film student seeking the freedom to live an authentic life, a Libyan doctor who lost his wife and son in the waters of the Mediterranean, and a Somalian shopkeeper who tried to save his young daughter from a marriage forced upon her by a militant commander. Both unsettling and luminous, Travelers is a lean, heartrending exploration of loss and connection. Award-winning author Helon Habila inscribes unforgettable signposts that mark 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.
This novel has all the weight of art with the sting of breaking news.… I loved this book. It is indeed [Helon] Habila at his best.
— Leila Aboulela, author of Elsewhere, Home
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
Habila has outdone himself, giving his characters the dignity which the media often fails to.
— Samira Sawlani
At once intimate and expansive, Travelers captivated me from the very first pages.
— Aminatta Forna, author of Happiness and The Memory of Love
The novel’s unassuming title is suggestive of [Helon] Habila’s cool, open-minded approach to a hot-button subject. While he leaves us in little doubt of the horrors his characters have escaped, he seldom invites us to gawp. Adroitly teasing out the rich quiddity of his characters’ diverse journeys, he instead makes the simple yet valuable point that refugees’ lives are as irreducibly complex as anyone else’s.
— Anthony Cummins
The book’s elaborate depiction of a range of personal sacrifices brings into focus the human tragedies obscured by statistics and discussions of public policy.
Travellers is a rich mosaic of African migrant experiences.
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
Habila’s latest is a resonant, relevant novel.
— Jane Ciabattari
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