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The Orchard of Lost Soulsby Nadifa Mohamed
Synopses & Reviews
From one of Grantas Best of Young British Novelists, a stunning novel illuminating Somalias tragic civil war
It is 1987 and Hargeisa waits. Whispers of revolution travel on the dry winds, but still the dictatorship remains secure.
Soon, through the eyes of three women, we will see Somalia fall.
Nine-year-old Deqo has left the vast refugee camp where she was born, lured to the city by the promise of her first pair of shoes.
Kawsar, a solitary widow, is trapped in her little house with its garden clawed from the desert, confined to her bed after a savage beating in the local police station.
Filsan, a young female soldier, has moved from Mogadishu to suppress the rebellion growing in the north.
As the country is unraveled by a civil war that will shock the world, the fates of these three women are twisted irrevocably together.
Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa and was exiled before the outbreak of war. In The Orchard of Lost Souls, she returns to Hargeisa in her imagination. Intimate, frank, brimming with beauty and fierce love, this novel is an unforgettable account of ordinary lives lived in extraordinary times.
"A brutal confrontation in pre — civil war Somalia intertwines three women's lives in this devastating second novel by Somali-born Mohamed (after Black Mambo Boy), who is named in Granta's 2013 'Best of Young British Novelists' list. The story opens in 1987 in the city of Hargeisa, as the widow Kawsar and the orphan Deqo prepare for a pro-government rally that all locals are required to attend. Deqo, who is nine, has been promised a new pair of shoes if she dances for the crowd. When Kawsar saves Deqo from a beating for forgetting her dance steps, a female soldier, Filsan, arrests Kawsar and beats her so severely that she can never walk again. As Somalia descends into revolution, Kawsar struggles with her painful memories; little Deqo survives on the streets, selling stolen fruit and sleeping in a barrel; and duty-bound Filsan's career unravels along with the country. The three women's paths, perhaps a tad too coincidentally, cross again later, and they take refuge together behind the 'grief-blue walls' of Kawsar's home near the titular orchard. Mohamed is a lyrical writer, and although her material could easily be exploited, she does not so much milk it for emotion as elevate it to a kind of searing poetry. Agent: Ben Mason, Fox Mason Ltd." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa in 1981. In 1986 her family temporarily relocated to London; this move became permanent with the eruption of the Somali Civil War. She was educated in London and went to Oxford to study history and politics. She finally returned to Hargeisa, now in the new Republic of Somaliland, in 2008. Her first novel, Black Mamba Boy, won the Betty Trask Prize, was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the PEN Open Book Award. In 2013 she was selected as one of Grantas Best of Young British Novelists.
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