Picture of author.

Nuruddin Farah

Author of Maps

23+ Works 1,746 Members 39 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

MAPS, Nuruddin Farah, 0-14-029643-3 The 1998 laureate of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, Nuruddin Farah has been described as "one of the finest contemporary African novelists" (Salman Rushdie). Farah was born in 1945, in what is now Somalia (what was then the Italian Somaliland), show more in Baidoa, and grew up in Kallafo, under Ethiopian rule in Ogaden. The ethnically and linguistically mixed area of his childhood contributred to his early fascination with literature. He spoke Somali at his home but at school learned Amharic, Italian, Arabic, and English. Farah worked for the Ministry of Education in Somalia before leaving for India to study philosophy and literature. His first novel, From a "Crooked Rib", was published in 1970; it has since achieved worldwide cult status, admired for its empathetic portrait of a Somali woman struggling with the restraints of traditional Somali society. It was followed by "A Naked Needle" (1976). Farah's next three novels, "Sweet and Sour Milk" (1979), "Sardines" (1981) and "Close Sesame" (1983), form the trilogy collectively known as "Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship". Upon the publication of "Sweet and Sour Milk", which won the English Speaking Union Literary Award, Farah became persona non grata in his native Somalia. In exile, Farah began what has become a lifelong literary project: "to keep my country alive by writing about it." The "Variations" trilogy was followed by the "Blood in the Sun" trilogy, which consists of "Maps" (1986), "Gifts" (1992), and "Secrets" (1998). Farah lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with his wife and two children. show less
Image credit: Philippe Matsas


Works by Nuruddin Farah

Maps (1986) 340 copies
Links (2004) 261 copies
Secrets (1998) 199 copies
Knots (2007) 175 copies
Gifts (1993) 141 copies
From a Crooked Rib (1970) 110 copies
Sweet and Sour Milk (1979) 101 copies
Hiding in Plain Sight (2014) 91 copies
Crossbones (2011) 85 copies
North of Dawn: A Novel (2018) 84 copies
Sardines (1981) 82 copies
Close Sesame (1983) 50 copies
A Naked Needle (1976) 12 copies
Eslabones (2011) 3 copies
Dolda i det fullt synliga (2017) 2 copies

Associated Works

Granta 49: Money (1994) — Contributor — 118 copies
Under African Skies: Modern African Stories (1997) — Contributor — 92 copies
African Literature: an anthology of criticism and theory (2007) — Contributor — 23 copies
Solo: Writers on Pilgrimage (2004) — Contributor — 11 copies


Common Knowledge



An intriguing book, experimental in its way (something I generally do not enjoy), and quite well done. I kept running into positive reviews of this work so finally broke down and bought it. Barcena (born in Santander, Spain, in 1984) is apparently a highly regarded author in Spain. I have seen his work compared with that of Cormac McCarthy (I agree) and Joseph Conrad (maybe, but mostly not so much). The plot begins in 16th century Mexico when two “gentlemen” hire Juan de Toñanes—a retired and down-on-his-luck former conquistador—to find Juan the Indian, a highly charismatic, missionary-taught man said to be causing trouble for both the Spanish-run church and state. No one knows what Juan the Indian looks like, making the search that much more interesting. The book follows the search over hundreds of miles and hundreds of years. Along the way, there are conquistadors riding horses and migrants riding trains, long-suffering peasants waiting patiently for a better world, Mexican revolutionaries, and women searching for a better life who end up murdered in the desert. The journey ends—or perhaps begins—in the U.S., north of the Mexican border. I found the writing excellent (and the translation also seemed to be so) and overwhelming. Substantial description, stream-of-consciousness…a great deal of substance worthy of much thought regarding justice and hope and even the meaning of life. (You can find an excerpt on the website of the publisher, Three Percent.)… (more)
Gypsy_Boy | Feb 16, 2024 |
Seeking more exposure to real life outside my middle-aged, middle-ish class American bubble, I asked a fellow truckdriver about books to help me learn about "real life," in his home country of Somalia.

He told me about Somali writer Narrudin Farah, who became internationally famous for challenging his country's prevailing views on women, especially in his book, "From a Crooked Rib." "Rib," was not available to me on audio so I chose "Links."

This book is much slower-paced than I can usually bear; but I decided the pacing was an important element in the narrative itself, and stayed with it. The setting is 1990's war-torn Somalia, where simply moving about in public called for a lot of planning and caution (and protection, often in the form.of gun-toting children.) The characters' backstory and a central mystery (an abduction,) added even more suspicion and intrigue. The tension created by the slow narrative worked in my favor, so far as my experiment is empathy goes.

I suspect this book was written with western readers in mind. Long expository passages made for some unnatural dialogue - but was very helpful! I only half- remember the news reports regarding Somalia, and the US involvement there, in my twenties. This book (and a quick peek at the Wikipedia article on Somalia,) put those memories into context.

"Links," definitely fulfilled my objective of exploring the reality of life in this part of Africa. It also contributed to expanding my understanding that colonialism, and the dismantling of it, is much, much more complicated (and ruinous) than I understood.

Did I LIKE the book, you wonder? I had the same question when I finished it! Having thought about it a day or so, I would say, "yes."

I absolutely feel enriched by having read it. The writing (and fantastic audible narration,) kept me engaged once I adjusted to the pace. I thought the characters were mostly well-developed and complex, and I had a good handle on the protagonist's emotional journey. I do feel like I may have missed some cultural subtext or symbolic meaning relating to the children at the center of the story, but it didn't hinder the experience too much.

This book was neither plot-driven nor character-driven, and the themes as explored here are not easily grasped by my western mind. I think it will take time and effort to fully appreciate when Farah has to say, and I will endeavor to devote more of both to "Links."
… (more)
Kim.Sasso | 9 other reviews | Aug 27, 2023 |
His first novel, from a woman’s point of view—a damning indictment of the place of women in Somalia. And, as compelling a story as it is, the book just never quite grabbed me. But definitely someone to keep reading.
Gypsy_Boy | 3 other reviews | Aug 26, 2023 |
My first book by Farah who, it appears, often (always?) writes about Somalia and the effect of its civil war on both those who have stayed and those who have left but later returned. The book is (intentionally) disorienting from the very beginning, reflecting the experience of the Somali protagonist who has been exiled to the US and is coming home for the first time in twenty years to visit his mother’s grave. The capital is divided into zones ruled by competing clan warlords and Farah’s gift is his ability to convey in fine detail the impact of this situation on those who live there and their daily struggle for survival. Farah never overtly philosophizes but is largely concerned with the issue of meting out justice—who has the right, who has the ability, and who can even say what it means—and the subject of responsibility. The story starts with our protagonist stepping off the plane and follows him through his decision to stay and involve himself in a search for two young girls who have vanished. Although the story never wavers (though it has tangents), it is rivetingly told and I look forward to reading my next book by him.… (more)
Gypsy_Boy | 9 other reviews | Aug 23, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
½ 3.4

Charts & Graphs