Gripping, provocative, and revelatory, Links is a novel that will stand as a classic of modern world literature. Jeebleh is returning to Mogadiscio, Somalia, for the first time in twenty years. But this is not a nostalgia trip?his last residence there was a jail cell. And who could feel nostalgic for a city like this? U.S. troops have 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. Diverted in his ...
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Gripping, provocative, and revelatory, Links is a novel that will stand as a classic of modern world literature. Jeebleh is returning to Mogadiscio, Somalia, for the first time in twenty years. But this is not a nostalgia trip—his last residence there was a jail cell. And who could feel nostalgic for a city like this? U.S. troops have 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. Diverted in his pilgrimage to visit his mother’s grave, Jeebleh is asked to investigate the abduction of the young daughter of one of his closest friend’s family. But he learns quickly that any act in this city, particularly an act of justice, is much more complicated than he might have imagined.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Farah writes an English of occasional odd turns; sometimes awkward, sometimes full of the lovely discoveries that awkwardness can make. He has dispensed with a translator, but for the American reader his novel is translation of a different kind, not of words but of a world: one we live in without quite, or not yet, hearing. — Richard Eder
The New Yorker
Somali novelist, who won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1998, lives in exile in South Africa but, in his fiction, regularly returns to probe the “Dantean complexity” of his homeland. In his ninth novel, an exiled Somali dissident named Jeebleh goes back to Mogadishu after more than twenty years to search for his mother’s grave and to settle old scores in the noxious hodgepodge of clan-based militias, warlords, and trigger-happy American soldiers. Jeebleh, now a university professor in New York with an American wife and two daughters, expects that his voyage will reinforce the great divide between his new life and the violent inhabitants of the “city of death.” Instead, after the abduction of a friend’s daughter, he discovers his own capacity for violence and his thirst for “justice, by any means possible.”
Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
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 Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An exile returning to Mogadiscio discovers he must settle some old scores, in a masterful tale from Somalian expatriate Farah (Maps, 1999, etc.). Prefacing many chapters with appropriate quotations from Dante, the author tells a harrowing story of moral and physical disintegration in a once-gracious city that, following the brief, failed US intervention and the fall of a dictator, is now a living hell ruled by two rival warlords. Covering actual events with the "skin" of his own imagination, Farah relates the increasingly dangerous and surreal experiences of Jeebleh, a Somali academic married to an American and living in New York. Revisiting Mogadiscio to pay his late mother's debts and exorcize some old demons, he is shocked by the destruction and the culture of violence. Young boys toting guns and chewing qaat are everywhere; at the airport, Jeebleh watches in horror as they shoot at an innocent family boarding a departing plane and kill a young boy. He wants to see his friend Bileh, a former political prisoner who now runs a refuge for abandoned children, and he also has to contact Caloosha, Bileh's sadistic half-brother. Not sure whom to trust, Jeebleh fearfully navigates his way around the war-torn city, whose vultures are its best-fed inhabitants. Learning that Bileh's little niece Raasta and her friend Makka have disappeared, Jeebleh suspects the involvement of Caloosha, who seems to be up to his ears in many vicious schemes, including murders committed to obtain people's body parts. Jeebleh meets up with both Bileh and Caloosha while dodging assassins and trying to dig up the truth about his mother's death. As he learns more about his mother, events in the city, and thedisappearance of the two children, he reluctantly realizes he has to take action-in ways that will punish his pursuers and eliminate a killer. A searing portrait of one of Africa's worst killing fields, by one of her most distinguished writers.
From the Publisher
"Nuruddin Farah, the most important African novelist to emerge in the past twenty-five years." —The New York Review of Books

"It’s easy to see why Nuruddin Farah’s name keeps coming up as a likely recipient of a Nobel Prize in Literature." —Newsweek

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101548479
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/29/2005
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 670,448
  • File size: 641 KB

Meet the Author

Nurudin Farah is the author of nine novels, including From a Crooked Rib, Links and his Blood in the Sun trilogy: Maps, Gifts, and Secrets. His novels have been translated into seventeen languages and have won numerous awards. Farah was named the 1998 laureate of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, "widely regarded as the most prestigious international literary award after the Nobel" (The New York Times). Born in Baidoa, Somalia, he now lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with his wife and their children.
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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide


Links is set in a city that is at once shockingly foreign and hauntingly familiar: Mogadiscio, the capital of Somalis, just weeks after the U.S. troops have pulled out, leaving a decimated, starving city ruled by thuggish clan warlords and patrolled by qaat-chewing gangs who shoot civilians simply to relieve their adolescent boredom. This is the city so disturbingly captured by CNN cameras and in Black Hawk Down, but from a startlingly different—and surprising—point-of-view.

Jeebleh is returning to Mogadiscio from New York for the first time in twenty years. Equipped with a clear-minded Americanized perspective and ready to attend to business, this journey 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?

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, clan-based violence and corruption to rescue the little girl—and, perhaps, a piece of his own identity. Jeebleh's adventure pulls him (and us) into a whirlwind tour of a city where nothing—family or friendship, loyalty or gratitude, betrayal or resentment, tradition or modernity—is simple.

Gripping, provocative, and revelatory, Links is 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.


Widely recognized as not just "one of the finest contemporary African writers" (Salman Rushdie) but as "one of the most sophisticated voices in modern fiction" (New York Review of Books), Nuruddin Farah is the author of eight novels. His fiction has been translated into more than a dozen languages and won numerous awards, including the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, "widely regarded as the most prestigious international literary award after the Nobel" ( New York Times).

Born in Somalia, Farah was persona non grata in his native country for over twenty years, able to visit Mogadiscio for the first time in the late 1990s. He currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  • After nearly being run over by a cab in New York City, Jeebleh travels to Mogadiscio to "disorient death" (pg 5). What does he mean by this?
  • Though Jeebleh was born and raised in Mogadiscio, much has changed in the twenty years since he moved to America. Do others view Jeebleh as a Somalian or as an American? How does Jeebleh view himself? What sort of conflicts does Jeebleh's twenty year absence present?
  • Discuss Jeebleh's refusal to give his clan family money for a new battlewagon and his intervention when he sees the child beating the dog. Do you expect this from Jeebleh given his personality and actions up to this point? What do you think causes him to do this?
  • Discuss Jeebleh's relationship with his mother. Specifically, why do you think she never moved to America? How are Jeebleh's actions towards her after her death different from the way he treated her while she was still alive? How are views on the family different between Somalians and Americans?
  • The description given of Hagarr, Bile and Caloosha's mother, on pages 172 and 173 paints the picture of a strong, educated, independent woman. How are other women in the novel depicted? How are their relationships with men depicted?
  • After being injected by the bodyguard in the cemetery, Jeebleh under goes personal changes. Discuss the nature of his transformation. Would you describe him as more courageous? How does this transformation help him?
  • Dreams and superstitions have a significant impact on the actions taken by Jeebleh and his friends. In particular, there are many superstitious views about Raasta who is viewed as an extraordinary child. What does Raasta offer her family and the people of Mogadiscio that warrants the admiration that she receives?
  • What do you think of Jeebleh's ultimate decision concerning Caloosha? What gives him the strength to make this decision? What do you think the long-term impact will be for the people surrounding Caloosha?
  • Why do you think Jeebleh leaves Mogadiscio without saying goodbye to his friends?
  • What other "direction" could Jeebleh take at the end of the novel when he decides to book himself "on a homebound flight and, not wanting to tempt fate, get to New York before impulse propelled him in another direction"?
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