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Maps [Paperback]

Nuruddin Farah

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Synopsis

Adopted as an orphaned infant, Askar grows weary of his village life and becomes involved in the political upheaval in Mogadiscio, Somalia. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
You sit, in contemplative posture, your features agonized and your expressions pained; you sit for hours and hours and hours, sleepless, looking into darkness, hearing a small snore coming from the room next to yours. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT BOOK 16 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I don't know a lot about African literature, and what I had read about Nurrudin Farah was a little intimidating, but this book was recommended to me by a friend who read it when it was first published in ENgland, and since then I've read the whole Blood in theSun trilogy (Gifts and Secrets follow). The books have taught me a lot about Africa and Somalia especially. But this book is, quite simply, a great novel, regardless of what continent it comes from. Farah writes like no other author I have ever encountered: he really makes the language come alive in a very special way. I'm convinced he's one of the most brilliant writers alive today.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you wanted to know about growing-up... 19 Nov 1998
By G. Cingal (cingal@clipper.ens.fr) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is one of the major contemporary African novels to date. Its author, the Somalian English-speaking writer Nuruddin Farah, has been in exile since 1975, because he opposed Siyad Barre's military regime. Since Barre's eviction from power and death, Farah has chosen to stay abroad. The novel was published in 1986 and comes first in a trilogy that also includes GIFTS (1992) and SECRETS (1998). It is the story of a young orphan, named Askar ("soldier" or "arm-bearer" in Somali), who, as he thinks, killed his mother at his birth. During his infancy and early childhood, he shares everything (except his dreams) with his foster-mother, a woman of Oromo origin named Misra. In Kallafo, where he stays until the age of seven, he is happy and at one with Misra. Then, because of the different political problems that threaten Ogaden (the Ethiopian area mostly inhabited by Somali speakers and claimed by Somalia as its own), he is sent to the Somalian capital, Mogadiscio, where he lives with his maternal uncle, Hilaal, and his uncle's wife, Salaado. There, he tends to become a fierce patriot, though his moods are moderated by the presence of his uncle and his aunt, two loving but demanding intellectuals. At the age of 17, Askar sees Misra again. This is during the 1977 war in the Ogaden, and Askar has been misled into thinking that Misra betrayed Somali patriots. The whole story is told by three different voices, each of which the third case, the tale is more "objective", with Askar being referred to as a classical novel character ("he"). On the whole, Askar's dilemmas and split personality make up a deeply felt and immensely rewarding work of fiction. As the end shows, there is always fiction in life, but perhaps not the way you would expect it
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mapping the human psyche 21 July 2006
By scribehermes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Personal or political. That is the question. Nuruddin Farah says that everything is political. What does the term political mean? I think it implies the dynamics between the ruler and the ruled. What we see as political writing today has essentially to do with the state. But even within the smaller segments of the state and the society, even within human consciousness, there is the ruler-ruled dichotomy. So everything is political. But the response to that is individual, characteristic of the human being, and hence personal. The political manifestation in the personal life of Askar is what the book is about. While it does this, it also maps the contours of the psyche of Askar in the most lucid and poetic manner possible. Farah is a Somali shaman who weaves the tale of Askar in the oral tradition of Africa.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shameful editing 18 Mar 2013
By motherof5 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Kindle version of this book has multiple typographical errors on every "page," and even some missing words. There are times when I can't tell if a sentence is just missing its ending punctuation, or the last part of the sentence is actually missing. This edition needs a significant clean-up job.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A search for identity in a troubled land 12 Jun 2012
By Linda Linguvic - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This 1986 book was the choice of the international book club at my local bookstore. Basically, it is about a search for identity. Set in Somalia and Ethiopia, the orphan Askar's mother dies at his birth and he is brought up by a servant woman named Misra. There's definitely a love bond between them but these ties are strained and then broken as he grows up, especially when he is sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Mogadiscio.

The story includes the thoughts of the young man, dream sequences and the complex politics of the time and the place. Interpersonal relationships are prominent, especially that between Askar and Misra as well as Askar and his aunt and uncle who are quite educated and introduce him to a more cosmopolitan world.

As war rages its horrors intensify the question surfaces as to whether or not Misra is a traitor or just another pawn in the ongoing war and Askar matures has to deal with several questions about her loyalty to his country. The truth is never confronted directly. It is up to the reader to make his or her own judgments.

There is no doubt that this is a fine book that introduced me to a culture I knew little or nothing about. However, the many dream sequences just add to the confusion as to what actually happened. I soon grew impatient with this book and even though I can respect it and appreciate the unique viewpoint the author brought to it, I found it difficult to follow the plot and much too sad and depressing for my taste.
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