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 ...
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.