Nazer, Mende 1981(?)-
NAZER, Mende 1981(?)-
Born c. 1981, in Sudan; brought as slave to England, c. 1998; granted asylum, December, 2002. Education: Attended Stanmore College.
Home—London, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Public Affairs, 250 West Fifty-seventh St., Suite 1321, New York, NY 10107.
Writer and student.
(With Damien Lewis) Slave: My True Story, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2004.
Mende Nazer is a writer and student living in London. As a child, Nazer lived in a Nuba village in Sudan with her family. Then, at age twelve, she was kidnapped by Arab raiders and sold into slavery; she worked for a wealthy family in Khartoum for seven years. When she was nineteen, she was sent to London to work for the wife of a Sudanese diplomat. There, she managed to escape and find refuge with friends and finally was granted political asylum by the British government in 2002 after initially being rejected. With the help of coauthor Damien Lewis, she wrote Slave: My True Story, the memoir of her experiences in Sudan and London.
Nazer's memoir chronologically follows her journey through childhood, the traumatic events that led to her capture, and a detailed account of her daily activities as a slave. While the recollections of the abuse and fear Nazer experienced fill a majority of the memoir, Nazer's descriptions of her peaceful childhood in her Nuba village provides insight into the daily lives and customs of Sudanese culture. After Nazer's escape and during the publishing of her book, controversy surrounded her story as the diplomats named by Nazer in her account denied the veracity of her story. No resolution was made between the two parties, and the subsequent publishing went on as planned.
Slave received critical praise for its clarity and detail. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that the memoir was "revelatory in the truest sense of the word: told with a child-pure candor that comes like a bucket of cold water in the lap." In another review, Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman commented that "the details are unforgettable, capturing both the innocence of the child and the world-weariness of one who has endured the worst."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Nazer, Mende, and Damien Lewis, Slave: My True Story, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2004.
Booklist, December 1, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Slave: My True Story, p. 631.
Crisis, January-February, 2004, review of Slave, p. 59.
Guardian (Manchester, England), October 9, 2002, David Leigh, "Foreign Office Investigates Claim That Woman Was Kept As Slave by Diplomat: Sudanese Official Denies Accusations and Says Au Pair Was Always Free to Leave," p. 8; November 12, 2002, David Leigh, "Diplomat's 'Slave' Can Stay in UK," p. 9.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2003, review of Slave, p. 1263.
People, March 29, 2004, Allison Adato and Pete Norman, "Free at Last," p. 131.
Publishers Weekly, October 20, 2003, review of Slave, p. 42.
Straits Times (Singapore), April, 2004, Clara Chow, "Mende Nazer."
Time, February 9, 2004, Lev Grossman, review of Slave, p. 75.
Washington Post Book World, March 21, 2004, Alex P. Kellogg, "Against Her Will," p. 5.