Read Maps by Nuruddin Farah Online


This first novel in Nuruddin Farah's Blood in the Sun trilogy tells the story of Askar, a man coming of age in the turmoil of modern Africa. With his father a victim of the bloody Ethiopian civil war and his mother dying the day of his birth, Askar is taken in and raised by a man named Misra amid the scandal, gossip, and ritual of a small African village. As an adolescent,This first novel in Nuruddin Farah's Blood in the Sun trilogy tells the story of Askar, a man coming of age in the turmoil of modern Africa. With his father a victim of the bloody Ethiopian civil war and his mother dying the day of his birth, Askar is taken in and raised by a man named Misra amid the scandal, gossip, and ritual of a small African village. As an adolescent, Askar goes to live in Somalia's capital, where he strives to find himself just as Somalia struggles for national identity....

Title : Maps
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140296433
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 259 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Maps Reviews

  • Jim Fonseca
    2019-05-24 09:24

    A story from the Muslim world in the “Horn” of East Africa, a peninsula that juts out toward Saudi Arabia. It’s kind of blank spot on the map for many of us, but it consists of Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. The story is set in the 1970’s. A young boy grows up in a world of women – his father has been killed in the endless territorial disputes of this area especially the on-going feud over Ogaden, a region disputed by Somalia and Ethiopia. His mother died at his birth, so he was adopted by the childless midwife. In this world of women he even comes to believe that he has menstruated. This is referred to more than a dozen times in the novel to the point where it seems overdone. The main character grows up as a bright, scholarly “little adult” who looks down on the games and silliness of other kids his age. He is in love with his schooling and his wall maps, trying to figure out his place in the world literally and figuratively. This is a diverse regions with many peoples. He grows up in a tiny village in a Somali-speaking world, but his adoptive mother is Oromo, from Ethiopia and she speaks Amharic (not Aramaic). This ethnic difference is critical because later in the story she is accused of treason by the Somalis and the boy has to decide if he believes this or not and deal with his feelings. The young boy ends up being quasi-adopted by a well-off uncle and his wife in the big city of Mogadishu. In the transition from tiny village to big city, a whole new world opens up to him. Contrary to stereotypes of the Muslim world, the wife is very modern and drives to work as a college professor while her husband stays home to cook and keep house. The boy loves his country and wants to go to war to defend it and to get his territory back. His aunt and uncle want him to pursue his education and forget about these endless, futile territorial wars. So a big theme is the pen vs. the sword. I found this to be a so-so read as a novel but its main value is in the local color of a part of the world that few novels emerge from. (Another that comes to mind is Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah.)

  • Hadrian
    2019-06-11 08:38

    Conflicted feelings about this one. I appreciate the poetic force of Farah's prose style, but too much of the book is squandered. Farah loves writing about the symbolism of dreams, giving children implausibly deep questions, and stirring up the narrative by moving between first, second, and third person for the same characters.For the purposes of Goodreads, I give it three stars as a placeholder, but Farah had moments of true greatness.

  • طَيْف
    2019-05-16 06:37

    حكاية طفل تسكنه التساؤلات والكلمات...الأسماء ورموزها...الأرض والسماء، القلم والكتاب، والخرائط...وتسكنه الأحلام التي احتلت مساحة كبيرة من حياته ومن الرواية...والتي تركت آثارها على نمو ذاتهوالأكثر من ذلك أنها حكاية الصومال وإقليم أوغادين المتنازع عليه بين الصومال وأثيوبيا والحرب الدائرة بينهما عام 1977...وحكاية المآسي التي أصابت الصوماليين فيها، من مذابح وتهجير وقتل واغتصاب للنساء العفيفاتعسكر...قتل والده في تلك الحرب...وماتت أمه عند ولادته...وربته الأثيوبية "مصرا" صاحبة القدرات التنبئية، في قريته "كالافو" التابعة لإقليم أوغادين...ليغادرها وهو في السابعة إلى بيت خاله في مقديشو...مفارقات كثيرة يحياها الفتى وهو ينتقل بين أجواء متناقضة...ليتكيف مع حياة جديدة...في كنف خاله وزوجته المثقفين...فتتسع مساحة أسئلته...ويحاول البحث عن خريطته الذهنية لذاته وللحدود التي تفصله عن "مصرا"، في الوقت الذي يتمحور اهتمامه حول خريطة الصومال وأفريقيا وحدودهما...وكيف اتسعت أوروبا على حسابها...في إشارة لأزمة الهوية التي يحاول تحديدها وفهمهافكما يقول فارح:"لذلك فإن رغبتي في الكتابة، جاءت من الرغبة في إعادة اختراع عالم، يستطيع فيه أي طفل صومالي أن يتعرف إلى ذاته"وربما لهذا رسم فارح شخصية عسكر بوعي مبكر بتجاوز حدود عمره بكثير"خرائط" الرواية الأولى ضمن ثلاثية "دماء في الشمس"، والتي تتضمن "هدايا" و"أسرار"...والسرد فيها يتنوع بين ضمير المخاطب والمتكلم والغائب...تنوعا لا يفقد الرواية تماسكها...ويتراوح في الزمن بين الحاضر والماضيحتى الصفحة 130 تملكني الإحباط من نزول توقعاتي بعد ما قرأته عن كاتبها والإشادة به، وبعد انتهائي من روايتي "وول سوينكا"، وبعد ذلك بدأت الرواية تتخذ منحى مختلفا خاصة مع حوارات عسكر وخاله الفلسفية، وتساؤلاته المصيرية حول ما يربط الصوماليين ببعضهم ودور الحب كرابط أصيل وبديل لرابط الدم...وهل الأولوية للتطوع في جبهة التحرير أم الانتساب للجامعة الوطنية لإكمال الدراسة، بمعنى آخر الأولوية لتحرير الأرض أم لبناء الإنسان؟؟لماذا ثلاث نجمات؟؟لأنه ركز في جزئه الأول على علاقة عسكر بمصرا مربيته الأثيوبية من ناحية حسيّة بإيحاءات تقود إلى توقع علاقة جسدية بينهما رغم أنه غادرها إلى مقديشو وعمره سبع سنوات، وللتكرار والحشو أحيانا كثيرة دون فائدة تذكر، وللحوارات التي جاءت مباشِرة في العديد من صفحات جزئها الثاني لفرض رؤية سياسية يتبناها الكاتب...والحوارات التي لم أجدها منطقية في نهاية الروايةولأنه عزز مفهوم الهوية الصومالية على حساب الهوية العربية الإسلامية، بل غمز في أكثر من موضع باستنكاره للوجود العربي على أرض الصومال...وقد عرض تصوره لأمة صومالية تمتد من جيبوتي إلى أجزاء من كينيا إلى الأوغادين...لها لغتها وثقافتها وهويتها الخاصة، حتى اعتبر العرب غزاة هيمنوا بلغتهم المكتوبة على لغة أهل البلاد الشفاهيةورغم كل ذلك...فقد فتح أمامي الكتاب بابا على إقليم أوغادين ومأساته والأحداث الدامية التي حدثت فيه، مما قادني للبحث والقراءة عنه وعن المآسي التي عانى منها الصوماليون في مواجهة الأثيوبيين

  • Chrissie
    2019-06-16 07:11

    Don't give up on this book too soon. I feel the book completely turns around when Askar arrives in Mogadishu and one meets with Hilaal and Salaado. They are marvelous! This is what I thought before this point: I wanted to like this book...... but I don't. I always check Kirkus Reviews because usually they do not praise a book or an author unless it is really good. In their review of Maps, shown on the Barnes and Noble site,they say it is "One of the best novels out of Africa in some time." I am very disappointed, both in the book and in the B&N review. I have not finished the book yet; I am about half way through. I will force myself to finish the book. I do not like the narrative. I do not think it gives insight of Somalian life. Please read Jess' review below. I agree with every sentence of her review! It seems silly to just repeat what she has said, but read her review and believe it. If I search for something good to say about Maps it would be that sometimes Farah does express intriguing thoughts, such as: "Annoy a child and you will discover the adult in him. Please an adult with gifts and the child therein re-emerges." Think about it, this is true! But on the whole this book is tedious, repetitive and boring. Buying this book was a mistake. If when I finish the book my opinion has changed I will let you know.Well my opinion has changed! I love Farah's writing, and maybe all that I disliked before makes me appreciate the writing now even more. The book does give insights into Somalian life and the ethnic problems at the root of the Ethiopian and Somalian conflict. It also sheds light on other African conflicts. Still reading ......So in conclusion I would have to say that I do like Farah's writing. I personally do not like books that only express the dark side of life because all life includes sparkles of happiness and humor. Sometimes the sparkles are few and far between, but they are there. A book that dispenses with all sparkles is not true to life and is oh so difficult to read! This book does balance the despair and hopelessnes in Misra's life with hope and understanding and purpose, seen in the lives of Hilaal and Salaado. Askar is in the middle, confused and not knowing which way to be drawn. It is he who must define where he stands, and thus who he is. This book is not easy reading, but well worth the effort. It is not only about African ethnic differences and their implications but also about the balance between body versus mind and fate versus our ability to control our lives. Hilaal and Salaado did not have an easy life, but they chose to direct their own lives and made a point of seeing life's sparkle. They remained compassionate and understanding of others and Misra.

  • Eric
    2019-06-06 07:36

    Fantastic coming-of age story. For a culture as mysterious as that of the Somali, this book gives an interesting insight into the people and the wars that they fought, both to liberate themselves and to get to know who they truly are. While the switch in points of view was confusing, it became easier to follow with time. The worldview of Askar, the main character, keeps changing as he grows older, and as the people that surround him react to their worlds, they give him an insight into human nature, and he learns what his place in this world is.First Nurudding Farah book I am reading. Definitely not the last.

  • Peter
    2019-06-15 06:23

    Although this story jumps around in time from the very beginning, and sometimes steps out of time altogether in dream sequences, it also progresses forward steadily as the problem of the identity of Askar moves from mostly considerations of how the child Askar is defined by and against his adoptive mother Misra, to how those considerations become politicized as we come to understand that Misra is ethnically Ethiopian and Askar Somalian. But the initial definitions of child against mother, boy/man against woman never go away. They are mixed in with the problem of political identities, as Askar comes to understand that he is Somalian, and to consider what that means. But the categories Ethiopian/Somalian are never quite stable either; they are discussed and complicated throughout the book, and the discussion of maps itself brings in further considerations of the relationship between Somalia and Africa as a whole, and between colonizers and colonized. The book's narration, told in third, first and second person, helps create the sense throughout of the instability and plurality of identity. But this discussion of identity formation is never purely abstract, this is all set in a defined place and time, in the setting, to start with, of a region fought over by Ethiopians and Somalians, with Soviet intervention. The book raises possibilities, both uplifting and disturbing--life is sacrifice and the drinking of enemy blood, life is giving and love--but doesn't offer any clear resolutions. It's not always easy to follow. It's brilliant.

  • Chris Blocker
    2019-05-18 08:30

    One almost needs a map to make sense of this novel. It's not that the story is convoluted; it's more the way the story is told. At its core, Maps is exquisitely written with a story that is perhaps a bit too drawn out, but is interesting nonetheless. The language Farah uses to craft this story is phenomenal. There is beauty in the simple construction of many sentences, philosophy in the placing of others. If Maps is any indication, Farah is a very talented writer with a particular knack for the English language (Farah writes in English despite it not being his first language).For a reader such as myself, I wonder if Farah isn't too clever. I have a feeling this book offered more profound statements than I was able to take away from it. Particularly, what was the reason behind all the shifts in Maps? There are shifts in time, place, reality, and, most distracting, in point-of-view. Farah heavily utilizes first, second, and third person in Maps, switching at the end of nearly every chapter. Also, there seem to be questions of gender and gender identity at the heart of the novel, but I never spent enough time on the text to decipher what message I was supposed to walk away with.I liked Maps sufficiently, but Farah isn't the kind of author I'd run to again. Linguistically, he reminds me of a more philosophical, more poetic Aleksandar Hemon (another author who wrote in a secondary language), but I found it difficult to stay engaged in the story. Perhaps it was just me and where I was at the moment in life.

  • Shanae
    2019-05-19 11:19

    Great book about identity, the colonization of Africans living within borders established by the colonizers, the fluidity of ethnicity and everything else you can imagine about Somalia and Egypt. Farah is an amazing writer who tells story with all types of reads like poetry. I am big on writers who use language to their advantage and Farah is definitely one of those types.

  • James
    2019-05-27 07:38

    Maps is a novel by Nuruddin Farah, a chronicler of modern Africa's sociopolitical turbulence and growth who has lived in exile from his native Somalia since 1974. The first in a trilogy of novels, Maps is rich in concept and execution, beautifully worked in the dense, intricate prose. It tells the story of Askar, orphaned as a child, who is rescued from his dead mother's side and raised in a small village by Misra, an older woman who develops a mysterious, protective bond with him.Eventually he moves to the capital to live with his prosperous Uncle Hilaal; however, Askar's origins continue to preoccupy him, and he grows into a serious, introspective youth fixed on the urgent question of his identity. Thus we have the central theme of this novel - identity - a theme that is woven with complexity as Askar begins with close ties to Misra, his substitute mother, and as he grows into young manhood with ties to the land, Somalia, metaphorically represented by maps which he studies and learns about first from Misra and later from Hilaal. It is with Misra that the boy Askar begins his journey toward becoming a man."Indubitably, she had done a most commendable job, training him in the nomadic lore of climatic and geographic importance -- that it was the earth which received the rains, the sky from whose loins sprang water and therefore life; that the earth was the womb upon whose open fields men and women grew food for themselves and for their animals. And man raised huts and women bore children and the cows grazed on the nearby pastures, the goats likewise; and the boy became a man," (p 134)There are unique and striking images presented as Askar lives with Misra. Those of water and of blood, dreams of a future that is yet unknown. "Water: I associate with joy; blood: not so much with pain as with lost tempers and beatings. But I associate something else with blood -- future as read by Misra. Once I even made a pun -- my future is in my blood." (p 36)It gradually becomes true that Askar's blood and future are indelibly connected with Somalia. But her continues his search for identity. His father had died for the future of Somalia and Askar is taught about the past:"'Whose are the unburied corpses?' Then the man smiled. He said: 'Our memories, our collective or if you like, our individual pasts. We leave our bodies in order that we may travel light -- we are hope personified. After all, we are the dream of a nation." (p 129)Hilaal, the cook and nurturer in his city home of Mogadiscio, is able to provide some answers for his baffled nephew on the subjects of African tradition, Somalian manhood and selflessness. Employing a poetic, imaginative style, Farah skillfully juxtaposes Askar's emotional turmoil and the struggles of his beloved Somalia under siege, as the characters try to understand why blood must be shed for territorial gain. In the end, Askar must choose between avenging his soldier father's death by joining the army, or pursuing his academic studies, but the choice is taken out of his hands by powerful external forces.This is a poetic coming-of-age story, following in the tradition of Dickens and many others. Farah makes it new with his poetic style, a unique narrative voice using different points of view, and with the complex relationships between family, friends, and the land. The result is a wonderful tale of searching for the identity of one's inner and outer self in a difficult world.

  • Jaspreet
    2019-06-03 07:29

    About a week ago, I finished reading Maps by Nuruddin Farah . As with most things in my life, I fell behind on the process of writing the review. I told myself that it was okay to hold off on writing the review until I had some questions. Before getting to the questions, I would like to get a (short) general review. The book was surprisingly engaging and powerful. From publisher’s weekly, here is a plot summary: Askar, orphaned as a child, is rescued from his dead mother's side and raised in a small village by Misra, an older woman who develops a mysterious, protective bond with him. Even when he moves to the capital to live with his prosperous Uncle Hilaal, Askar's origins continue to preoccupy him, and he grows into a serious, introspective youth fixed on the urgent question of his identity. Hilaal, the cook and nurturer in his city home, is able to provide some answers for his baffled nephew on the subjects of African tradition, Somalian manhood and selflessness. Employing a poetic, imaginative style, Farah skillfully juxtaposes Askar's emotional turmoil and the struggles of his beloved Somalia under siege, as the characters try to understand why blood must be shed for territorial gain. In the end, Askar must choose between avenging his soldier father's death by joining the army, or pursuing his academic studies, but the choice is taken out of his hands by powerful external forces. In a larger sense the book is about the intersection and conflict between family and national identity. The uncle and aunt were my favorite characters and to me they represented the progression from a patriarchal societal model to one that is more equal. LisaMM asked: For either book: what is the significance of the title? In this book, I think that Askar uses maps to find his place in the world. As the war continues, the maps change and he realizes that location is fluid. R asked: Although you haven't reviewed it yet, I'm aware that you really liked Maps. Can you pinpoint what exactly was so gripping or engaging about this book? I have been thinking about what made me enjoy Maps and the only thing I have come up with is the tone of the book. It is serious and at time ominous. However, you can really see the progression of the main character from a young boy to a young man who is trying to fit together the various pieces of information he is given. I also liked the way questions about good and evil were raised and handled. R also asked: I hear that the author of Maps has a very unique and powerful writing style. How would you describe it? Does it compare to any other authors you know? This is a hard question to answer because I seem to have writer’s block in thinking about the author. The only thing I can think of is deceptively simple. The language and words he uses to express an idea are simple on the surface, but the sentiments and insight they provide are incredible. The only other author I can think of is David Malouf who wrote Remembering Babylon which I reviewed here.

  • Martha
    2019-06-10 14:34

    The first half of the novel is not comfortable. A child (Askar) in living on the border of Somalia and Ethiopia in an area contested in the war tries to find his place in the world. He is Somali and his adoptive mother (Misra) is Ethiopian. Their relationship is too close for comfort. Askar's sense of self is all wrapped up in hers; in a sense, he is not weaned until he is sent away from the war-torn area to live with an uncle and aunt in Mogadishu. They are well-educated, well-off and apparently removed from the turmoil. The beginning of the book places the reader in a difficult position of feeling muddled (as is the narrator), having to navigate an opaque and confusing narrative, with shifts in voice (1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person), but all are the same narrator, Askar. Time shifts without warning, dreams are inserted without initially being clearly delineated as such, the child narrator is sucked into the weird, dysfunctional relationships of the adults surrounding him. And he is 0-6 in this section, thus with little agency. From early on, Askar is fascinated with maps and there are maps when he gets to Mogadishu as well. Maps trying to define boundaries of contested territories, artificial boundaries created by the British and Italian contested territories. Those who are well-educated speak Italian &/or English. Who are the Somali in this context? Who is Askar, a Somali child raised by an Ethiopian adoptive mother? Where are the boundaries, between Askar and Misra, between Ethiopia and Somalia? Will the maps tell him who he is? Will he join the army to fight for his mother country, he who is in a sense motherless?I'm partway through this and working to finish it before the book club meeting tonight. I'm worried that the book club members won't like it and it is a wonderful book. Just not an easy book, full of literary devices like shifts in time and in voice and magical realism. In some ways, it is a difficult book, both structurally and emotionally. The book club members tend to favor straightforward narratives and plot-driven books. I wanted us to do a Somali book, but was this a good choice? I guess I'll find out tonight. *****Yep, about 2/3 of the book club didn't show :) Ah well. Those of us who were there had a great discussion and there was lots of pizza leftover. I'm glad I read the book and would read more by Farah.

  • Leah
    2019-05-27 07:16

    Set in Mogadishu and Greater Somalia, Maps is a startling and disarming novel that impugns the borders between countries, peoples, and people while challenging narrative conventions and interlacing prose with the rich tradition of Somali poetry. The most challenging aspect of the book is the usage of second, first, and third person on the part of the narrator. This is the key conflict of identity that persists through various themes and threads in the novel.(In a time of widespread xenophobic bias, ignorance of and indifference to Somali history and politics, and a catastrophic famine consuming the Horn of Africa, Maps is both poignant and pertinent.)

  • Juliet Wilson
    2019-05-27 10:33

    This is a complex, beautifully written story of the relationship between a boy and his adopted mother and her relationship with her adopted country (his birth country - Somalia). It is told from three different viewpoints and the language is often quite impersonal so its not the most straightforward book in the world, but it is tremendously insightful into how people see themselves and their country. It's a book to read slowly and quietly to absorb all the layers of meaning.

  • Melissa Barbosa
    2019-06-07 09:25

    I can say that I loved it - but also hated it. I found some passages very difficult: some were too obscure for me, and other just took me out of the story to the realisation that I was reading a book (in other words, they did not sound plausible). But it is impressive, suffocating, and has so many layers that some times I felt really lost. In other words, it's a must read.

  • Sorin Hadârcă
    2019-05-31 07:18

    A masterpiece of sorts. To begin with, the highly poeticized narrative is confusing, but you'll get used to it. Next you'll be engulfed in a maelstrom of questions—all pertinent: Is there truth in maps? Why is there guilt if there is no crime? Why we are burdened by bodies rather than wondering spirits? And, at the end, who are we, really? I found it captivating and thought-provoking.

  • Sumaya Shoole
    2019-05-19 14:28

    الرواية باعثة على التشتيت في البداية وتبدأ الإثارة مع وصول عسكر لمقديشو.. الترجمة قضمت من المتعة قليلاً أحببتها بشكل عام

  • Anna
    2019-06-13 10:21

    I don't know what I just read! I need to think about it a day maybe a month. Hmmm?

  • Hanan Al_Jbaili
    2019-06-12 07:15

    قصة عسكر الذي يبحث عن ذاته بعيدا عن القرية ليجد نفسه غارقا في النشاط السياسي الصومالي

  • Claire
    2019-06-01 12:11

    Prose is incredibly lyrical; overall very dense, sometimes inscrutable, generally unenjoyable.

  • Jane
    2019-06-08 06:11

    The rating system doesn't work for this book. It WAS amazing...and frustration and at times unnecessarily (IMHO) confusing. The voice changed from second person to third person to first person all through the book. So did chronology. The author is clearly brilliant and he is writing about a part of the world I know too little about. I am willing to trust that I am hearing about events and perspectives that I haven't researched and can't verify. The fact that he writes in English, his second language, and that he uses many words that are obscure and rarely used in English, ie. in one sentence he used the word "secundine" for placenta and "parturition" (which I knew, but still) for "giving birth." Add to this that there was a good deal of magic realism, mythology, etc. throughout...and sometimes I couldn't tell if he was describing actual rituals and beliefs or if this was his imaginative, personal mythology. The main character, Askar, at times seems to become female...he menstruates...or is it his "mother" Misra? Askar is thinking in this passage: "I have a strange feeling that there is another in me, one older than I—a woman. I feel as if I have allowed a woman to live inside of me, and I speak her words not mine." And he describes that he was present, watching, at his own birth. The heavy reliance on dreams also places demands on the reader...Is this a dream? magic realism? a blend? In some ways I'd like to read this book with the author. He's been a teacher...there's a wonderful NYT interview with him about his literary preferences, for those interested. The book club discussion elicited very different opinions...One person skimmed, just felt the writing was all over the place, two others loved it. My husband liked the second half more, and realized at the end that the "You" sections are Askar telling the story to himself. He is clearly trying to create his identity...and the central theme is obviously the difficulty of doing that given Somalia's history, culture, late arrival to a written language. In light of Syria, that theme seems so relevant. I just wish it hadn't demanded so much me on so many fronts--literary tropes, language usage, shift from realism to surrealism. I needed a guide.

  • Mona (Monalisa)
    2019-06-11 06:23

    Monalisa's 3-paragraph review of Maps by Nuruddin FarahThis is a coming of age story about a Somali boy (Askar) who is raised by a female Ethiopian servant (Misra) who is employed by his family. The story is set in the country of Somalia which is located in the "Horn of Africa." The political backdrop of the story is the 1970s Ogaden War between Ethiopia and the Western Somali Liberation Front. I knew little about this conflict before reading the book, but now I know that many ethnic Somalis live in the Ogaden, though it is part of Ethiopia. What I like most about this book is the author's examination of the relationship between Askar and Misra. Askar's parents are both dead and he ends up living with his paternal uncle. It is there that he is placed in the care of Misra. Askar is a peculiar child. He struggles to come to terms with the circumstances of his birth as he searches to find his place within his uncle's household. He forms an almost unnatural bond with his caregiver Misra, which the author spends a lot of the book describing. Sometimes the author's prose is cryptic and I wasn't sure whether or not Askar was daydreaming. At first I found this annoying, but then I came to believe that this was the author's way of letting the reader into Askar's stream of consciousness. Overall I enjoyed reading a story set in Somalia, although I found this particular one a bit slow-moving. I wanted to care more about the main character, but I never really made a connection with him or Misra. After reading this book I would definitely read another by this author. It also makes me want to read more about Somali history and culture. My rating for this book is 3.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Grady Ormsby
    2019-06-03 06:26

    Maps by Nuruddin Farah is an extraordinary novel. It is the story of Askar, an orphan who struggles to find his personal identity as his homeland of Somalia struggles to find its national identity. In the novel we follow Askar's life from a village in the Ogaden with its tribal taboos, superstitions and suffocating limitations to metropolitan Mogadiscio with its cosmopolitan variety of experiences, viewpoints and opportunities. Like beliefs, values and ways of thinking, we assume that dream structures and patterns vary from culture to culture. There seems to be much of Somalian culture in the many dream sequences woven into the narrative. Askar's dream world is developed beautifully, lyrically with a strong dose of magic and mysticism. Stylistically I was intrigued by Farah's use of multiple points of view. We are not told the story by several different characters. The story is exclusively Askar's. What changes is the person; sometimes first person, sometimes third and most unusually, sometimes second. All three points of view are omniscient so we get an in-depth view of Askar's thinking and emotions. When the second person is used, the story is being told to Askar almost as if it was a reminder. This second person narrator seems to be an outside observer rather than any other of the story's richly developed characters.Maps is the first installment of a trilogy. As soon as I finished it, I ordered the other two books.

  • AJ P
    2019-06-06 13:11

    This was a book for my office African fiction book club.I had quite a difficult time reading this book. It was written in a style that I did not particularly enjoy. It was very prosey, and lyrical, and with sort of a rambling sentence structure and narrative style that jumped around in time and place. Some people really enjoy that style of story telling, but it's not always for me and this book in particular didn't do it for me as far as writing style goes.Another thing that bothered me (though I did get used to it) was that every chapter was written from a different perspective. Every three chapters cycled through telling the story in first, second, and third person - though all from the main character's perspective. It was strange, and I was annoyed at first... but when I finally got to the end of the book and I found out WHY it was written that way (you find out in the last couple of sentences) I totally appreciate it and really like it now. But I wanted to know why and wish I didn't have to read the WHOLE book to figure it out.Also, far too many dream sequences for my tastes.I did like the story. I found it to be a good story of a typical life in Ethiopia/Somalia during the rebellion of the Somali people in Ethiopia a few decades ago. It wasn't an African story told to appeal to western audiences, it was just a human story, and that I liked. So overall, I'm glad I read the book. But, I'm even more glad I finished it and am done.

  • Madeline
    2019-06-11 10:25

    There are laudatory quotes from Salman Rushdie and Chinua Achebe on the back of this book, and the fact that they feel so able to praise Farah's work goes part of the way to explaining why they are Rushdie and Achebe and I am not. I had a fiendishly difficult time finding a way into Maps, which is written in alternating chapters of second/first/third person (but second and third person chapters both slip into an omniscient narrator/author place) in a way that is maybe a little too close to Askar's brain. (Teenage boys are notoriously difficult protagonists.) I want to finish the other two books in this trilogy, and perhaps reread Maps . . . although I don't think the books have connecting characters or anything, I am certain that if I've read a bit more of Farah's work then maybe I'll chip away at it a bit and slide into his writing. Certainly, I would like that to happen. It is a better experience than, "STFU about your Oedipal complex, Askar."

  • Scott Cox
    2019-06-16 11:30

    This story by Somalia author Nuruddin Farah is an excellent introduction to the heartaches and ensuing struggles currently devastating northeast Africa. This story is the first in Farah's “Blood in the Sun” trilogy. It takes place during the Somalia and Ethiopia conflict over the Ogaden region in 1977. The main characters are an adopted orphan (Askar) and his adoptive mother (Misra); the latter is of questionable national and ethnic background. These characters symbolize the angst of the region’s conflict. Just what determines nationality? Where does one’s loyalty lie? What do boundaries on maps convey? This is perhaps best characterized by the following quote from the novel, "The question is, does truth change? Or do we? Do we, men, women and children change? Or does truth?” This novel is a stark reminder that these questions are not easily answered. Farah won the coveted Neustadt Award for Literature in 1998.

  • SLD
    2019-05-23 10:38

    Before you start this book, open it to a random page and read a few passages. Here's one:"'...I hope, as dreamers do, that the dreamt dream will match the dreamt reality--that is the invented truth of one's imagination. My maps invent nothing. They copy a given reality, they map out roads a dreamer has walked, they identify a notional truth.'"If this writing style appeals to you, you will enjoy the book. If you find this pretentious or abstruse, then you are unlikely to enjoy reading it and will fight your way to the end like I did. Much of the book's potential is lost due to the apparent lack of a good editor asking: "Could this be worded better?" "Is this dream sequence necessary?"; or even "What exactly did you mean by that?"

  • Mikko Saari
    2019-06-13 10:23

    A story about a young man in Somalia, set in the time of Ogaden crisis. Themes include identity, both personal and ethnic, as the young man's parents have died, and he is raised by a woman who is an ethnic outsider in the Ethiopian town inhabited mostly by Somalis.It is a well-written book, but also rather heavy and at times confusing. Too intellectual and poetic for me; I'd have preferred a clearer plot and less having to wonder and interpret what the different dream sequences mean – but I'm straightforward that way.Still, this was an interesting view on a subject different from what I usually read, so worth reading.

  • Brian
    2019-05-19 11:28

    Heard about this book on World Book Club of the BBC. Sorry that I listened to the podcast. The story of an orphaned Somali boy and his journey to adulthood. A lot of time shifting, trite similes, shallow dreamscapes, and a plot not worthy of more than a short story. Nothing deep in the character development, either. The tie-in to the political strife in Somalia and Ethiopia is worth noting but the book is too pseudo-cerebral to be informative. It was okay, at best, and I'm being generous. I admit to not being the greatest reader in the world so feel free to criticize in a constructive way. Tell me what I missed (aside from the time).

  • Solange
    2019-05-18 10:35

    Confusing sums this book up in one word. Most times I had no idea who was speaking - Is it the narrator? Has he switched perspectives? Is he dreaming? Is this scene occurring right now or is it in the past? I can say that I understand and appreciate the themes that the author is trying to convey (Does formal recognition on a map make a state, create a historical narrative for a nation and its people) However, all I ended up thinking that this novel was a prime example of 'highbrow literary genius' whose sole purpose it seems, is to confuse - and alienate - readers.

  • Amanda Rose
    2019-05-25 09:33

    While the narrative reached redundancy in some places (I understand repetitive imagery as a technique, but its occurrence should take you deeper each time), I was grateful for Farrah's compelling and vivid story as an introduction to the tragic history of the Ethiopian nation. I take it as a generally good sign when, upon finishing a novel, I want to educate myself more on topics contained therein.