IBRAHIM AL-KONI is a Saharan, Tuareg writer and one of the most prolific Arabic novelists. Born in 1948 in Fezzan Region, Ibrahim al-Koni has written extensively about political and environmental threats to his age-old, Saharan Tuareg people. Mythological elements, spiritual quest and existential questions mingle in the writings of al-Koni who has been hailed as magical realist, Sufi fabulist and poetic novelist. He spent his childhood in the desert and learned to read and write Arabic when he was twelve. Al-Koni studied comparative literature at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow and then worked as a journalist in Moscow and Warsaw. He is one of ten finalists for the Man Booker International Prize for 2015 to be awarded May 19, 2015. This excerpt is from his masterpiece, which has not been published in English translation yet. Among his works currently available in English are: The Bleeding of the Stone, Gold Dust, Anubis, and A Sleepless Eye.
He stole the oil from his elderly black foster mother. He waited till she went out to milk the goats by the light of the splendid firebrand. Then he crept to her corner and poured the pure, mountain liquid in the water skin.