Cover image for Links
Farah, Nuruddin, 1945-
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Publication Information:
New York : Riverhead Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
336 pages ; 24 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Library

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Jeebleh is returning to Mogadiscio from New York for the first time in twenty years. It is not a nostalgia trip for him-Jeebleh's last residence here was a jail cell. And who could feel nostalgic for a city like this? The U.S. troops have recently come and gone, and the decimated city is ruled by clan warlords and patrolled by qaat-chewing gangs who shoot civilians to relieve their adolescent boredom. Jeebleh is returning to visit his mother's grave and to settle her outstanding accounts-but more urgently, the youngest member of his oldest friend's family has been abducted. Though they have not seen each other in two decades, Jeebleh knows from their childhood that his friend-a virtual brother, who remained in Somalia when Jeebleh left-will need Jeebleh to step in. Jeebleh is determined to cut through the swirling violence and corruption to rescue the little girl-and, perhaps, a piece of his own identity. Gripping, provocative, and revelatory, Linksis the finest work yet from Farah, a novel that will secure his place in the international literary firmament and stand as a classic of modern world literature.

Author Notes

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), 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.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In this supremely powerful meditation on violence, evil, and the possibilities of human redemption, Farah, author of From a Crooked Rib (1970), lays bare a society so wracked by civil war that death is a lucrative export and killing a pastime. The story is set in Mogadiscio, Somalia, in the years after the exit of the U.S. military, but with the city firmly in the grips of warlords. Into this Dantean landscape comeseebleh, a former resident who has long since made a new life for himself in New York City as a college professor.eebleh has returned to seek out the unmarked grave of his mother and to reacquaint himself with his closest friend, Bile, a doctor who operates a refuge for the homeless and those temporarily dislocated by the fighting. No sooner doeseebleh arrive than he must confront evil--and his own past. He is also quickly enmeshed in the search for Bile's kidnapped niece, Raasta, a child-saint who symbolizes the people's hope, and her friend Makka. This dual search takeseebleh to the most desolate parts of the city, a landscape of hell, where he is guided and tempted by demons rather than men. This is a significant novel by an important novelist. --Frank Caso Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this stunning, timely novel from the internationally acclaimed Somalian writer Farah (From a Crooked Rib, etc.), Jeebleh, a middle-aged Somalian, leaves his family in New York to return for the first time in 20 years to his birthplace, civil war-torn Mogadishu. Having been a political prisoner before leaving the country, he's not anxious to go back, but feels responsibility for his family (he must settle his late mother's accounts, and make peace with her spirit) and for his oldest friend, Bile, whose niece, Raasta, and her playmate have been kidnapped. Bile's murderous, hedonistic stepbrother, Caloosha-who'd had Jeebleh imprisoned, two decades earlier-is now one of the city's notorious clan warlords and likely involved in the kidnapping. Jeebleh is horrified to see a city familiar yet terribly changed, where he is surrounded by gun-toting, qaat-chewing teenagers with hair-trigger tempers, family elders offended by his refusal to give them money to buy arms, and an associate of Caloosha's who collects dead bodies for reburial. Jeebleh fulfills his duties and reawakens his connections with his clan only when he sets his ideals aside, as he makes his way through the country's political and social labyrinths. Farah skillfully delineates the emotional transformations that take place in Jeebleh as he becomes accustomed to his changed homeland, a corrupt society where powerless citizens act on a moment-to-moment basis, whether for good or for ill, in order to survive, and where-as both Jeebleh and the reader discover-nothing is as simple as it first appears. The publication of this beautifully written book should be one of the year's literary events. Author tour. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The New York Review of Books has classified Farah as "the most important African novelist in the past twenty-five years." His new novel tells the story of Jeebleh, who is returning to Mogadiscio, Somalia, from New York to visit his mother's grave and contend with the abduction of a family friend's child. This is not a heartwarming return trip home for him, as his last residence in Mogadiscio was a prison cell. Jeebleh has been away for at least 20 years, and upon returning he discovers that his country's geography is much changed by the military troops from around the world who have come and gone, in the process destroying the climate and the city's infrastructure. Horrific warlords now terrorize the civilian population. It is against this backdrop that Jeebleh commits to saving his friend's daughter from her captors and maybe, in the process, saving his own life as well. Farah writes of governmental and social unrest in chilling detail that hardly seems to be fiction at all, especially considering today's global headlines. This fast-paced title is recommended for public and academic libraries with an emphasis on world and literary fiction.-Christopher Korenowsky, Columbus, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.