From the internationally acclaimed author of North of Dawn, 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.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||18 - 17 Years|
About 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.
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
"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
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.
ABOUT NURUDDIN FARAH
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"?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Mogadiscio had known centuries of attrition: one army leaving death and destruction in its wake, to be replaced by another and another and yet another, all equally destructive ... " (p. 14) Jeebleh has been living in the United States for many years, and after his mother's death he decides to make a visit to his home country of Somalia. He intends to visit his mother's grave, and help search for a young girl -- a member of his oldest friend BIle's family -- who has gone missing. The novel opens with Jeebleh's arrival at the airport, where he encounters the mysterious Af-Laawe. From these opening moments it is difficult to discern good and evil; to know which characters can be trusted. The tension is palpable, just like day-to-day living in Mogadiscio.Jeebleh begins to connect with old friends and associates. In addition to Bile, there is Caloosha, his brother, and a violent warlord; Shanta, Bile's sister; Faahiye, her husband; and Raasta, the missing girl and Shanta's daughter. With each encounter he becomes more embroiled in the conflict underpinning the civil war in Somalia, finally admitting, "I'm now part of the story, in that I've taken sides, and made choices that might put my life in danger." (p. 215).Reading this book, I learned a bit about the civil war in Somalia. However, some aspects of the translation failed to convey the emotion and intensity the author undoubtedly intended. The book is also full of symbolism that I didn't fully grasp: either due to lack of background knowledge, or possibly again a weakness in the translation.
Links was a very absorbing portrait of Mogadiscio and the impact of civil war and clan conflicts. Farah presents a frightening world where people may not be who they seem and violence is an everyday event. The protagonist, Jeebleh, has been living in the United States since being released from imprisonment for which his friend Bile's half brother, Caloosha, was responsible. He has returned to Somalia to help find Bile's niece and her friend who have been kidnapped, and also to properly bury his mother. In the process he grapples with who he is as a Somali who has left the country and returned.
Links addresses Somali clan politics and clan loyalties in the context of the civil war in Mogadishu. Jeebleh, the protagonist, born in Somalia, was arrested and imprisoned by the Siad Barre regime, and was exiled from the country in Barre's last days. His return to the city is prompted by a need to visit his mother's grave and offer her a proper burial right, and to tie up loose ends with his foster brothers and sister.The book is interesting in its depiction of strife-torn Mogadishu, but fundamentally unconvincing as a novel. The characters never attain any real depth or demonstrate any convincingly true feelings, and the dialogue is stilted and leaden. Farah does provide some superficial insight into Somali clan loyalties, but his aggressively anti-clan posture makes this seem more like a lecture than a natural position for his characters to inhabit.