Monday, April 11, 2011

Read Your Way Around the World - Somalia

Read Your Way Around the World invites you to Somalia.

Nuruddin Farah is perhaps the most internationally well known Somali writer. He has spent 20 years in voluntary exile keeping the spirit of his country alive in his novels. Being an important center for commerce and trade, Somala has seen much violence and conflict in the last two centuries and has been without a central government since the 90's.
Maps is the first in Farah's Book in the Sun trilogy which includes Gifts and Secrets. In Maps, Askar, an orphaned child, who, as he grows up, becomes focused on his identity and his role in his troubled homeland amid famine, war and ethnic conflicts. In 1998 Farah won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

In 2006 Farah published Knots - "Called "one of the most sophisticated voices in modern fiction" (The New York Review of Books), Nuruddin Farah is widely recognized as a literary genius. He proves it yet again with Knots, the story of a woman who returns to her roots and discovers much more than herself. Born in Somalia but raised in North America, Cambara flees a failed marriage by traveling to Mogadishu. And there, amid the devastation and brutality, she finds that her most unlikely ambitions begin to seem possible. Conjuring the unforgettable extremes of a fractured Muslim culture and the wayward Somali state through the eyes of a strong, compelling heroine, Knots is another Farah masterwork." - publisher

An Expensive Education
by Nick McDonell.

Somali freedom fighter Hatashil is at the center of this fast paced spy novel set alternatively in Somalia and Harvard. Hatashil is the subject of a prize winning biography but is now suspected of genocide. A reviewer in Booklist says, "Part college novel and part spy thriller in the tradition of Greene and le Carre, An Expensive Education encompasses global, national, and campus politics, showing the way the biggest agendas are sometimes set on the smallest stages. McDonell writes about hot topics with a cool head, and his riveting novel should fuel an emotional response from readers." McDonell published his first novel Twelve at the tender age of 17.

Sharkman Six
by Owen West.

A minor military operation in Somalia goes wrong and with terrible consequences. The author, himself a former marine captain, brings realism to this compelling narrative. This is a graphic and intense story that brings to mind the novels of Harold Coyle and W.E.B. Griffin.

Somalia adopted the Latin alphabet in 1972 allowing Somali culture to come alive for the western world. Somalia has a long oral and poetic tradition in which Canada's Margaret Laurence immersed in the 1950's. Laurence lived in Somalia (the British Protectorate of Somalia) and her book A Tree for Poverty is a collection of translated Somali prose and poetry, a discussion of the Somali oral tradition and a description of Laurence's experiences in Africa. The Prophet's Camel Bell was originally published in 1963. "When Margaret Laurence set out for Somaliland with her engineer husband in 1950, she confronted the difficulty of communication between peoples of vastly different cultures. Yet she came to know the skilled orators, poets and craftsmen of the country, and to share the vision of a people’s struggle for survival in a barren land.
The Prophet’s Camel Bell is part travelogue, part autobiography, part celebration of human nature, and essential reading for anyone who has ever been a stranger in a strange land." - publisher

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