A Mouth Full of Salt

A Mouth Full of Salt

N/A April 2024 Hardback 256pp

About the Book

The Nile brought them life, but the Nile was not their friend.

A small farming village in North Sudan wakes up one morning to the news that a little boy has drowned. Soon after, the animals die of a mysterious illness and the date gardens catch fire and burn to the ground. The villagers whisper of a sorceress who dwells at the foot of the mountains. It is the dry season. The men have places to go, the women have work to do, the children play at the place where the river runs over its own banks. Sixteen-year-old Fatima yearns to leave the village for Khartoum.

In Khartoum, a single mother makes her way in a world that wants to keep girls and women back. As civil war swells, the political intrudes into the personal and her position in the capital becomes untenable. She must return to the village.

A Mouth Full of Salt uncovers a country on the brink of seismic change as its women decide for themselves which traditions are fit for purpose – and which prophecies it’s time to rewrite.

About the Author

Reem Gaafar is a writer, physician and filmmaker. Her writing has appeared in African Arguments, African Feminism, Teakisi Magazine, Andariya and 500 Words Magazine, among others. Her short story ‘Light of the Desert’ was published in I Know Two Sudans (Gipping Press UK, 2014) where it was awarded an Honourable Mention. Her short story ‘Finding Descartes’ was published in Relations: An Anthology of African and Diaspora Voices (HarperVia, 2023). A Mouth Full of Salt is her debut novel and Winner of the Island Prize 2023. Gaafar lives in Canada with her husband and three sons.

→ Author Website


'A Mouth Full of Salt skillfully recounts the nuanced history of two countries that were divided long before they had any say in the matter. Gaafar approaches this narrative with compassion, confronting uncomfortable truths head-on.'
The New Arab

‘Insightful, elegant and compelling, with a profound sense of place. Gaafar shows brilliance in the ways she weaves destinies together.’
Karen Jennings, author of Crooked Seeds

‘An impressive debut. I was gripped until the very last sentence.’
Leila Aboulela, author of River Spirit

‘This beautiful novel tells the story of all of Sudan – its rituals, joys and sorrows, full and dry nights, stability and displacements.’
Amir Tag Elsir, author of The Grub Hunter

'A riveting novel which brings alive the vibrations of village life … the story is so beautifully and grippingly told that once started, it is difficult to put down.’
Francis Mading Deng, author of Cry of the Owl

‘A vivid, beautifully written and transportive read. Gaafar's powerful female characters show how women dealt the weakest hands claim small victories through tenacity and strength of spirit. I loved it.’
Rosalind Russell, author of The End of Where We Begin

‘Compelling … Gaafar’s medical and scientific training contribute to the novel’s remarkably organic descriptions, as well as some of the themes that Gaafar addresses – whether they have to do with women’s health issues, or the clash between science and tradition.’
The Africa Report

‘Gaafar tells the intertwined stories of three women who are confronted with injustice. A conversation about responsible writing, role models and the forgotten war in Sudan.’

‘A riveting debut novel .. A Mouth Full of Salt captivates from the first line with its intoxicating mix of high intrigue, socio-political commentary and (post)colonial history.’
Afropean Magazine

'A stunning, powerful story of a community in the north of Sudan, struck by calamity and loss.'
Samia Aziz


Island Prize 2023 (Winner)
Prize Website