Book Review: Betrayed: For Love (Novel)

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:07
Written by Deng DeKuek, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), www.newsudanvision.com
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Betrayed: For Love (Novel) by Sabbath De Yecouba

Paperback: 280 pages

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK (August 14, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1491802960

ISBN-13: 978-1491802960

Reviewed by Deng DeKuek

sdyLAST Thursday night, I had the misfortune of lending time and sleep to a certain travesty of a debut novel. I wanted to like this novel very much. After all, it was an inaugural work of a young and unpublished South Sudanese “poet of potential” as he is described among aspiring South Sudanese writers. Although I do not usually do novels for apparent reasons, I thought it was prudent to try some emerging literature of South Sudan.

“Betrayed: For love” is a novel set at the turn of century when the savage Second Sudanese Civil War was at its height and majority of South Sudanese were languishing in diaspora and refugee camps. The novel is an attempted narrative of a convoluted love story of Julius and Charity that spans countries and continents that concludes shortly after the first anniversary of independence. Julius, an adopted and the only male child of Margaret Achok, a food distribution centre worker, is a student of uncertain age and falls in love with Charity, daughter of Zachariah in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Things do not work out for various reasons and they end up marrying other people. Charity ends up with Julius’ cousin, eventually immigrating to United States and Julius marries Ann an Ethiopian lady.

From the onset, Sabbath paints – rather attempts to paint the struggle and harshness of a typical life in a refugee camp amidst poverty, fear, rigid traditions and desolation in times of uncertainty. He fails miserably in all aspects. I was totally lost from the beginning. Sabbath can spell, that much I can admit. Nevertheless, much of the writing is horrid to the very end of glossary at the back. The novel begins with a prologue much of which is unintelligible. The grammar and vocabulary fares worst than that of King Julien XIII of Madagascar. This was just a fore taste of horrors to follow.

Chapter one particularly scarred me when Julius rode his bicycle to school only to find the gate locked so, “he squeezed his hand through a square among the several squares of wire mesh the gate was made of and turn it side by side like testicles of a bull in readiness for castration (sic).” When Charity declared her love to Julius, it was “unbelievable but it was said for real. Julius was as happy as a liberated civilian on their independence day. His lips were short enough to cover his teeth (sic).” And when Charity is despondent, “she is as sad as a bride whose husband is proven HIV positive (sic).” This whacky style characterises the entire novel.

In all honesty, the novel reads worst than a barely-dressed up and badly written “B Movie” screenplay. The characters are shallow and introduced haphazardly such that you do not know who is who. Much of cultural traditions – more appropriately misrepresented cultural traditions depicted throughout are those of Jieng (Dinka) thus the strong usage of Caucasian names is quiet inexplicable to put it mildly. Weaving various cultural traditions while sprinkling them with tinges of jealousy, tragedy and incoherent drama, Sabbath fails to create suspense and fails to captivate. The saddest low point in the whole novel for me was Ann’s tragic life characterised by alcoholism and failing marriage being portrayed as a side effect of literal magical bewitchment and not addressed in terms of socioeconomic dynamics and physical isolation of Ann’s anchors of familial support.

So, is there anything I liked about this novel? No! Perhaps the ending was slightly nifty and admirable but it was abrupt and undeveloped. Overall, the dialogue is dud and stale, and the typeset is abysmal. This novel is a weird, disjointed rambling book and it suffers inadequacies of the writer exacerbated by editorial oversight – or rather lack of it thereof. I would rate it 1/7 stars.

++ Next Review: “Is ‘Black’ Really Beautiful?: Dehumanizing and Intentional Ethics of Descriptions and Vilifying Philosophes of Naming” by Kuir ë Garang.

Deng Dekuek is a columnist for The New Sudan Vision. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.