Saturday, October 24, 2015

Three of the best books about Somalia

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Somalia. One title on the list:
The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed

On the eve of the civil war in the late 1980s, two women and a girl in Hargeisa, north-western Somalia, find themselves caught up in the turbulence as their lives intersect.

In this story of conflict and survival, events unfold through the eyes of Deqo, a nine-year-old orphan born and raised in a refugee camp, who ran away and is now cared for by prostitutes; Kawsar, an elderly, grieving widow bedridden after being beaten at a police station; and Filsan, a zealous young soldier from Mogadishu, here to help suppress the growing rebellion against the dictatorship. All three are wrestling with memories of lost loved ones.

In a chapter on each revealing their past, Mohamed sensitively builds her cast of strong, self-empowered female characters.

As the revolt grows and the army moves "not just to black out the city but to silence it", the civil war's first "orgy of violence [is] enacted". But amid the harrowing events taking place, the author inserts a ray of hope.

Mohamed succeeds in achieving her stated goal of "[elucidating] Somali history for a wider audience". The author, born in Hargeisa (now in Somaliland), came to Britain with her family aged five – a temporary move made permanent by the civil war.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue