Sunday, 17 January 2010

Book of the week - Nadifa Mohamed, Black Mamba Boy

Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa, Somalia in 1981 as the country fell into dictatorship. She moved to London with her family in 1986, just before the beginnings of civil war as Siad Barre lost his grip on power. She was educated in London and went to Oxford to study History and Politics. Her d├ębut novel, Black Mamba Boy, based on the true story of her father’s life in 1930s, was acquired by HarperCollins UK in 2008. Nadifa is currently working on her second novel, also to be published by HarperCollins. Black Mamba Boy has attracted favourable reviews in several national papers, and the subject matter will appeal to judges of literary prizes. I have not seen any signed copies available as yet, but will keep an eye open and post a footnote to update. Available as paperback only.

"Aden,1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world. Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of east Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere. And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camp, across the seas to Britain and freedom. This story of one boy's long walk to freedom is also the story of how the Second World War affected Africa and its people; a story of displacement and family."

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