In the midst of a terrorist attack on a bookstore reading by Göran Loberg, a comic book artist famous for demeaning drawings of the prophet Mohammed, one of the attackers, a young woman, has a sudden premonition that something is wrong, changing the course of history. Two years later, this unnamed woman invites a famous writer to visit her in the criminal psychiatric clinic where she's living. She then shares with him an incredible story--she is a visitor from an alternate future.
Despite discrepancies that make the writer highly skeptical, he becomes increasingly fascinated by her amazing tale: in her dystopian future, any so-called "anti-Swedish" citizens are forced into a horrific ghetto called The Rabbit Yard. As events begin to spiral and the author becomes more and more implicated in this woman's tale, he comes to believe the unbelievable: she's telling the truth.
A remarkably intense, beautifully wrought tale that combines the ingenuity of speculative fiction with the difficulties of today's harsh political realities, They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears is the groundbreaking, award-winning work from the bestselling Swedish-Ugandan author Johannes Anyuru. With echoes of Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, and anti-immigrant hysteria, this largest and most complex novel from an already celebrated poet, author, and spoken word artist catapults him to the front ranks of world writers.
Earn by promoting books
Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.Become an affiliate
About the Author
Johannes Anyuru (b. 1979) is a poet, novelist, and playwright. He debuted in 2003 with the critically acclaimed collection of poems Only The Gods Are New. His second book, a memoir entitled A Storm Blew in From Paradise (2012) was based on his father's life. It received rave reviews and was awarded several prestigious literary prizes. They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears is his most recent book, and was awarded the August Prize and film rights have been acquired by Momento Film. Anyuru's work has been likened to a mix between Nobel Laureate Thomas Tranströmer and a hip-hop MC.
Saskia Vogel has written on the themes of gender, power, and sexuality for publications such as Granta, The White Review, The Offing, and The Quietus. Her translations include work by leading female authors, such as Katrine Marcal, Karolina Ramqvist, and the modernist eroticist Rut Hillarp. Vogel's debut novel, Permission, appeared in 2019 in English, as well as Spanish and Swedish translations.
"They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears] has a powerful emotional core... Anyuru's ability to imagine a thread connecting present-day exclusion to future atrocities makes this more than a genre entertainment. He has written a 'state of the nation' novel for a country that seems to be losing faith in the civic values for which it is internationally admired."--Hari Kunzru, New York Times
"Anyuru underscores the reality that even parallel worlds involve global connections... Each of his characters feels real, whether experiencing friendship and delight or torture and death." --NPR
"...an ingeniously plotted work...Anyuru's dystopia persuades because it is inextricable from the anxieties of his Muslim characters in contemporary Sweden, from disaffected youths who sell hash and flirt with radicalism to imams preaching forbearance in cramped basement mosques. The grammar of their faith, from its rituals of prayer to its reassurances of eternity, offers a means of orientation beyond precarious circumstances--as well as a counterpoint to the nativist equation of birthplace and belonging. " --Harper's Magazine
"It's a rare author who has such sensitivity with explosive materials...I came away thinking of the books as an attempt to forge a more humane means of expression, one that could surmount all our fears and failures." --Washington Post
"[Anyuru]. . . turns a novel about terrorism, time travel and alternative realities into something even stranger than those things: a philosophical meditation on hope." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Anyuru doesn't shy away from asking big questions in this novel, and the result is a searing meditation on some of today's most unnerving subjects."--Tor.com
"This novel blends topical societal issues with a speculative literary trope made fresh by being viewed through a powerful psychological lens. Anyuru, a poet as well as playwright and novelist, provides an engaging literary experience, a Möbius strip-like ride-in-time couched in finely-polished language." --Popmatters
"This is an intricately woven story, written with a wonderfully poetic sense of language...These are scary times, and Anyuru helps us think about that." --Asymptote
"It begins with an assault on a comic book store during an event by a cartoonist who has made jokes at the Prophet's expense, but where it goes from there is strange, magical, and one of the first books to emerge out of our modern time to touch terrorism the way Vonnegut did war. Anyuru doesn't shock the mind, but rather force us to ask new questions about what being a spectator truly means." --John Freeman, Literary Hub
"... They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears is, I assure you, one of the most phenomenal novels you'll read in this or any year. Its politics are important, but Anyuru's searing dissection of human beings is far more moving. Do not miss this book."--Book Riot
"In gorgeous prose, Anyuru's potent story addresses today's anti-immigrant rhetoric and the grim future it could create."--Publishers Weekly
"They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears is one of the finest novels I've ever read about the nature of radicalization--both of the individual and of societies. There is an inventive and emotionally devastating beauty about this book. That Johannes Anyuru has managed to so precisely capture the metastasis of hatred across time and space shows he is a writer in possession of a ferocious magic." - Omar El Akkad, author of American War
"...a rare, powerful multiverse novel that reflects the best and worst of human potential."-- Foreword Reviews, starred review
"Between the past, present and future, Johannes Anyuru weaves a novel of powerful elegance, which speaks of the madness we're approaching and a way, perhaps, of escaping it." -- Le nouveau magazine littéraire
"Walter Benjamin meeting Paul Virilio, meeting Donna Haraway, it is streams of consciousness full of verve and slang." -- Aftonbladet
"They Will Drown is political pamphlet, futuristic dystopia and a personal book of thoughts at the same time. . . . The novel becomes an almost physical experience--a punch." -- Goteborgs-Posten
"[Anyuru] finds his way into the hardest questions of today without backing off, bursting the surface of the paralyzing fear of terrorism." -- Abetet
"In imagining a future already at our doorstep, [Anyuru] describes 'a Sweden that Sweden had created to purify itself'. A land where fear and racism justify everything, including the very worst. . . . This disturbing text is discomforting in the face of the dangers of our times. But maybe another look would be beneficial, before it's too late." -- Livres Hebdo