Nuruddin Farah Biography
(1945– ), From a Crooked Rib, A Naked Needle, Sweet and Sour Milk, Sardines, Close Sesame
Somali novelist, born in Baidoa, in what was then Italian Somaliland, educated at Institution di Magistrale di Mogadishu, and the Universities of London and Essex. He has travelled widely and held academic posts in Europe, the USA, and Africa. His novels, written in English, have been described as political thrillers, but he uses the form to examine not only Somali society and politics, but also family relationships, and the complexities of life in zones of contention among the superpowers. He also analyses the dilemmas of women in traditional society, notably in his first novel, From a Crooked Rib (1970). In A Naked Needle (1976) a poor Somali teacher, ‘proud and fanatical’ in his simple views, undergoes traumatic disruption in his life when his former girlfriend proposes to return from England. Sweet and Sour Milk (1979), Sardines (1981), and Close Sesame (1983) form a trilogy entitled Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship, that of Siad Barre of the Somali Republic. Maps (1984) goes furthest in experimental narrative, but in the process loses none of Farah's political astringency. Gifts (1993) uses love-offerings as a metaphor to explore the psychology and culture of donations and gifts, and the obligations thus created.