Nadifa Mohamed Portrait
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2017.


Black Mamba Boy


München, 2015

[Ü: Susann Urban]

Der Garten der verlorenen Seelen


München, 2014

[Ü: Susann Urban]

Nadifa Mohamed [ Somalia, United Kingdom ]

Somali–British author Nadifa Mohamed was born in 1981 in Hargeisa. She came to London with her family when she was three. The chaos of the civil war in her homeland turned their temporary stay into permanent exile and Nadifa Mohamed studied politics and history at Oxford.

She took an interest in her father’s story at an early age. As a child, he experienced a little known, largely neglected period in British colonial history: born in Yemen in 1925, as a boy, he was caught up in the military conflicts in the Horn of Africa when Mussolini’s troops were attempting to conquer Ethiopia and had occupied most of modern day Somalia as a dictatorship. Nadifa Mohamed quizzed her father, studied historical sources, and tracked down the autobiography of a Somali sailor who was part of a community of anarchists in 1948 and had visited Eritrea and Djibouti. Following this extensive research, she wrote her first novel »Black Mamba Boy« (2010), for which she won the Dylan Thomas Award, among others. Her narrative is realistic, dense and full of nuance. It is a powerful and touching description of a young boy’s fate as he searches for his father, the descendent of Somali nomads. Her second novel »The Orchard of Lost Souls« (2013) broaches a similar topic to her debut and resulted in Mohamed being named in the »Best of Young British Novelists«, a list of twenty as chosen by the literature magazine »Granta«. The action plays out during the civil war in Somalia, in 1987 when maintaining an independent and united Somali nation seemed impossible and military rule was in the emerging stages. It centers on three women – a street girl, a widow who has lost her daughter, and a soldier – and their attempts to survive in the war. In an interview with »Deutschlandfunk«, Nadifa Mohamed said: »There are plenty of books about Somali, Muslim or African women, which simply list the different ways in which they are abused and that makes them appear completely powerless. But that’s not what they’re like. We are not powerless. We do whatever we can to change our lives.« As an author, Mohamed increased in aplomb in her second novel, showing the maturity of lyrical prose along with detailed character descriptions. Nadifa Mohamed won the Somerset Maugham Award for »The Orchard of Lost Souls« in 2014.

She lives in London.