Friday, March 05, 2010

Links - Nuruddin Farah

"All you can get from me is war.

If you want peace, go away from my Country"
                                              - Sayyid Mohammed Abdulle Hassan

His name has been in prominence in the Nobel discussions for a while, and there had been few rave reviews about his books. While, I could not get the more famous works of him, I did manage to find this book in India. In this recent novel written in 2004 ( knots , written in 2007 is the last novel) , Farah once again look at his country after the US peace keeping forces withdrew from Mogadiscio.

Jeebleh, an exiled Somali man returns to his homeland, to pay homage and make peace with the spirit of his mother ( and with himself). Like every expatriates, he is also haunted by the image of his homeland and cant stay away from his own past linked to this place. An incident which almost brought him near death in NY street ( taxi driven by a Somali driver run over him) could have acted as a catalyst to bring him to his home country. He has also heard of the abduction of the niece of his close friend Bile, and wanted to help him in whatever way possible.

He was welcomed at the makeshift airport by a sight of random killing of a young boy for sport, by three unruly youth. Al-Laafe, an unknown man was sent to pick him up from the airport by someone ( again unknown t him). It was obvious that some one is tracking him in his journey and he can feel their presence through out his stay.

Once you are in Somalia, you cant stay out of what is happening, around you. You get dragged into the quagmire of clan rivalry without you realising it. He offended his own clan elders, acted against the religious belief, by saving a dog from a mad boy. Someone sneaked into his hotel room, only to be killed by the hotel securities, and he always found himself being followed and watched from close quarters.

"Truth was one of the first casualties of the war" says his friend. As he realises that there aren't anyone you can trust, there are no friends, "we don't think of 'friends' anymore. We rely on our clansmen...sharing ancestral blood.".. "Times were when we knew who was bad and who was good. Such distinctions are now blurred. We are at best good badmen or bad badmen".

His pursuit for finding out about his mother and the two kidnapped kids is what the book is all about. He does manage to do what he came here for ( to make peace with the spirit of his mother), and the revenge he schemed secretly.

The book does bring out the bitter truth of the war, the American Soldiers in Mogadiscio, the money in play through UN relief funds, other international agencies and their operatives in Somalia, the misappropriation of the goods shipped in for the Somalis , the stolen cars market , the human organ trafficking ... The business interests of keeping the clan rivalry on.. Farah does some tough talk here. That is what this book all about. Very loosely held incidents and weak plot, unconvincing most of the part.

Many of my friends were talking about the poetic language used in his novels( while talking about secrets and maps), but not this one. It had pretty hard and plain language. It did have few political and social analysis, but far from being poetic. The fact that the book was written originally in English by Farah, could possibly have hampered his free use of language ( and the help of translators).


Links (2004)

Nuruddin Farah

Riverhead Books

336 Pages


Further Read: Guardian , Penguin

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