Nuruddin Farah: Sardines


The latest addition to my website is Nuruddin Farah‘s Sardines. This is similar to many of his other novels in that we have a brave person, in this case a woman called Medina, who stands up to the brutal repression from the General/President, the tribal system and the old-fashioned and repressive Islamic law. She is well-educated and was a journalist, till she was thrown off her paper and banned by the government from publishing any of her writing, for her criticisms of the President. She lives with her husband, a weak man who called Samater who is appointed Minister of Construction. They have an eight-year old daughter, Ubax, for whom Medina is now translating some of the classics of world literature into Somali. His mother, Idil, an old-fashioned and dominating woman, also lives with them. When Idil wants Ubax circumcised, Medina and Ubax move out, though the house belongs to Medina and not her husband and live in a house belonging to her brother who is abroad. Apart from a couple of plot elements – Medina’s best friend, Sagal, who is a champion swimmer and, if she qualifies for a championship in Budapest, plans to defect, and the Media-Samater relationship – the book is somewhat bitty. Inevitably we see the horrors of life in Somalia, particularly the arbitrary repression of the government, and the opposition to it, which is invariably repressed by the government. However, this is not one of Farah’s best.

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