Secrets

Overview

It is the week before the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia. Kalaman, a successful young businessman in Mogadiscio receives an unexpected house guest—the wild and sexually adventurous Sholoongo, his childhood crush returned from America. She announces that she intends to have his baby. Confronted by this dangerous interruption from his past, Kalaman starts to investigate his family's history, and uncovers the startling key to his own conception. Hailed by Salman Rushdie as "one of the finest contemporary ...

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Overview

It is the week before the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia. Kalaman, a successful young businessman in Mogadiscio receives an unexpected house guest—the wild and sexually adventurous Sholoongo, his childhood crush returned from America. She announces that she intends to have his baby. Confronted by this dangerous interruption from his past, Kalaman starts to investigate his family's history, and uncovers the startling key to his own conception. Hailed by Salman Rushdie as "one of the finest contemporary African novelists," Farah writes in a rhythmical, sensual prose reminiscent of García Márquez's best fiction. Evoking the beauty and tragedy of Africa, Secrets is a remarkable portrait of a family disintegrating like its country, its ties dissolved by exposed lies and secrets.

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Editorial Reviews

Kadija Sesay
There is no doubt that Farah is master over his use of language. But he plays and lays it out in such a way he uses each word to explain every nuance and meaning possible. . . . While the book's first half may be most enjoyed by the author's most dedicated fans and literary image hunters willing to reach the second, Farah's Secrets does manage to evolve into as a fascinating story. -- Quarterly Black Review
Kirkus Reviews
This intricate new novel, written in English by Somalian author Farah ("Maps", 1987, etc.), was recently awarded the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. The setting is Mogadiscio on the eve of Somalia's civil war, though the story begins a quarter century earlier in the village where its protagonist, Kalaman, enjoys a childhood blessed by the wisdom of his nurturing grandfather ("Nonno") and the precocious sexual attentions of an older girl, Sholoongo, who is, at various times, his companion, mentor, and tormentor. Then the narrative shifts to the approximate present day. Kalaman, now 33, owns his own computer company, but seems reluctant to marry his girlfriend and father a child, to the frustration of his importunate widowed mother, Damac. When Sholoongo returns home from America (where she became famous as a "shape-shifter" and practitioner of magic), expecting Kalaman to give her a child, the consequent tensions unearth buried "secrets" the several characters have long labored to conceal (which are disclosed in later chapters narrated, in turn, by Nonno, Damac, and Sholoongo). The novel is amazingly densely written; its principals' actions, thoughts, and emotions are rendered with superb clarity and thoroughness in an enthralling psychodrama that, obedient to Nonno's dictum that "it is in the nature of knots to come undone, and of buried things to be dug up by Time," reveals the connections drawing together a tale of a vengeful elephant stalking a man, a stolen birth certificate, a "secret marriage," and other shadowy matters, bringing painfully home to Kalaman the inextricable entwining of the personal and the political.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140280456
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/1999
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,415,129
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 0.71 (d)

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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