Rhodes Scholar and Princeton graduate Aaron Robertson '17, majored in Italian and received the senior thesis award for an Italian-to-English novel translation of Beyond Babylon (Two Lines Press), written by the Somali-Italian writer Igiaba Scego (with a wonderful introduction from Jhumpa Lahiri), will be published on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019.
An epic for an era of migrants, border-crossings, and traumatic conflicts, Beyond Babylon takes us deep into the lives of people swept up in history. Telling the engrossing stories of two half-sisters who meet coincidentally in Tunisia, their mothers, and the elusive father who ties them all together, Igiaba Scego’s virtuosic novel spreads thickly over Argentina’s horrific dirty war, the chaotic final years of Siad Barre’s brutal dictatorship in Somalia—which ended in catastrophic civil war—and the modern-day excesses of Italy’s right-wing politics.
Offering a visionary new perspective on political upheaval and identity in the 21st century, Beyond Babylon’s kaleidoscopic plot investigates the ways in which we make ourselves. Its myriad characters, locations, and languages redefine our sense of citizenship for a fast-changing world of migrants and demagogues, all anchored by five poignant individuals fighting to overcome memories of past violations. A masterwork equally as adept with the lives of nations as those of human beings, Beyond Babylon brings much-needed insight, compassion, and understanding to our turbulent world.