Read From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah Online


Written with complete conviction from a woman's point of view, Nuruddin Farah's spare, shocking first novel savagely attacks the traditional values of his people yet is also a haunting celebration of the unbroken human spirit. Ebla, an orphan of eighteen, runs away from her nomadic encampment in rural Somalia when she discovers that her grandfather has promised her in marrWritten with complete conviction from a woman's point of view, Nuruddin Farah's spare, shocking first novel savagely attacks the traditional values of his people yet is also a haunting celebration of the unbroken human spirit. Ebla, an orphan of eighteen, runs away from her nomadic encampment in rural Somalia when she discovers that her grandfather has promised her in marriage to an older man. But even after her escape to Mogadishu, she finds herself as powerless and dependent on men as she was out in the bush. As she is propelled through servitude, marriage, poverty, and violence, Ebla has to fight to retain her identity in a world where women are "sold like cattle."...

Title : From a Crooked Rib
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780143037262
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

From a Crooked Rib Reviews

  • Zanna
    2019-06-22 19:06

    Farah takes the perspective of Ebla, a nineteen-year old Somali girl from a rural area who has no education, and whose reflections on freedom and society form the incendiary core of the book. Most of them arise from her experience at the hands of men to whom she is a chattel.I found this to be a movingly simple and unaffected account from the perspective of a woman of few words and many insights. At times, she seems almost to become a cipher for the subjugation of women in Somalia; Farah does not cast her as a rebel heroine flying well-formed ideological flags. In fact, I now realise that my desire for her to rebel and demand her rights is an orientalist desire informed by stereotypes. Ebla's reality is not the reality my still colonised mind imagines for her. Yet Farah condemns the injustice she suffers effectively in the revelation of each prosaic detail in her life. He makes her as alive to us as we are to ourselves.

  • Adam Dalva
    2019-05-29 12:05

    Moving, insightful, and quick - I'm happy that I read this and learned about a culture I didn't know much about, but I can't say that I particularly enjoyed the experience. It has (as other reviewers have pointed out) many of the flaws of the first novel, one written in just three weeks: time moves oddly; the occasional perspective shifts are jarring; an overreliance on dreams; the accumulation of plot begins to overwhelm the writer, as evidenced by the book changing style as it goes - big scenes at the beginning with lots of detail, but a rush at the end, involving a coincidence (a bad one) to get Farah out of a polygamy subplot that he never seemed interested in.I really enjoyed the first 30 pages of this, and Farah's gifts, which have lead to a great career, are apparent - his inhabitation of the perspective of an 18 year old girl is notable and a happy surprise. And she is a great character, one I cared about. But beyond the quirks in the writing of this debut, books about curses tend to feel flat if the curse is introduced in the beginning. It's a bit like a movie preview that gives away too much: you still watch, but you're waiting to get past what you already sort of know.

  • Nnedi
    2019-06-13 19:09

    The writing was very simple but this story really pulled me in. I am so busy right now but this story had me in a strangle hold. It was the first novel I read on my Kindle. A good way to start. What an interesting unique character Ebla was.

  • Liralen
    2019-06-07 15:51

    Ebla, a young Somali woman, takes matters into her own hands when told that she is to be married to a man many years her senior. She is illiterate, without schooling; hers is a nomadic life, a world of cattle and isolation.In a way, Ebla reminds me of Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God: Ebla has very little by way of status, power, or agency, but she is determined to take her life—or at least her marriage—in her own hands.And yet...Ebla succeeds, and she doesn't. She finds refuge with a cousin, only for that cousin to use her and then make plans to marry her off as repayment of a debt. She elopes but soon finds that marriage is not all she might have wished for. When her husband goes to Italy and she learns that he has not been faithful, she takes steps that are, arguably, unusual for a woman in her position: 'Tell Tiffo that I am willing to marry him secretly. Maybe he will also want that. And if Awill comes back and doesn't want to return to me, then I will stay with him. I love life, and I love to be a wife. I don't care whose' (125).It's a bold claim, not least when you consider that married life has not, on the whole, been particularly good to Ebla. Perhaps it is the idea of marriage she loves, or the idea of making her own choices? In any case, despite her lack of education, Ebla proves herself to be something of a budding philosopher, always questioning meaning.Farah ends the novel in a way that seems more fitting for a short story than for a longer work, and we are left to wonder, what next? For Ebla's situation remains precarious, uncertain. Perhaps she has improved her future, but perhaps not.

  • Ron
    2019-06-26 17:05

    Written 40 years ago, this early novel from Somali writer Nuruddin Farah tells of an independent but uneducated young woman who leaves her tribe rather than marry a man she does not care for and flees to a life in town - first a rural center called Belet Wene and then to the city of Mogadishu. It is near the time of Somalia's independence from Italy, and her unsophisticated and limited grasp of what independence means for her may well represent the author's vision of Somalia, about to steer its own course in the modern world - a path that has led, as we know, to much political and economic discord.Ebla, the central character, takes shelter first with a cousin, whose wife gives birth to a child in the first days of her arrival. In spite of her independence, Ebla often permits herself to be guided by decisions others make for her, which is much of the time. As a result, she marries a man she has met only once, and while her first husband is away for several months, she marries another man, who is himself already married (permissible for him in a Muslim culture) but to a battle-ax of a woman who thoroughly intimidates him.In a picaresque style that varies between comedy and melodrama, the story focuses in passing on the conditions of being female in Somalia where, created from the "crooked rib" of Adam, a woman counts in Muslim law as only half a person, marriages are arranged for them, female circumcision is common, and only a clever, worldly woman can achieve a hard-won independence from dominance by men.

  • Rachel McCready-Flora
    2019-06-01 18:57

    I struggled with how to rate this book. As a feminist, of course I admired Farah's portrayal of the sexist culture that oppresses women in Somalia and how a struggle against the current cultural beliefs and structures are difficult, if not impossible to break out of, for the individual. For Ebla, the main character, every time she attempts to find freedom and independence, she further ties herself to people whom mistreat and take advantage over her. As the narrative continues, it is difficult to understand Ebla's true intentions as she struggles against these forces, and the intentions of those she finds herself depending on and using her.I found Farah's narrative difficult to follow at times, and found the partial portrayal into Ebla's thoughts and actions frustratingly seperated from the actual core of the book's unfolding plot. I believe Farah meant to keep the reader disconnected from Ebla and the other characters to help convey Ebla's confusion as she encountered various situations and characters throughout the narrative, not knowing who she could trust or not trust, and how the intentions of each character may not be what they seem.

  • nadia
    2019-06-03 10:42

    This is a beautifully written story, told from the point of view of a thoughtful, young somali girl-woman. The story is poignant, but stressful for the reader. This is not simply the result of caring for a mistreated protagonist, but the result of the protagonists constant and overwhelming confusion. She is not afraid to take a chance, and takes many. She seem to make these decisions in a haze, unclear about the morality of her decisions, unclear regarding their consequences. I was left hoping for her, but would not be surprised if she ultimately faced ruin as a 'fallen' woman.

  • Kamil
    2019-06-03 16:40

    My video review:

  • Azma
    2019-06-20 11:50

    The setting must be a few months before Somalia's Independence Day of June 26, 1960. The book projected much wisdom about self-identity and male-female relationships, mostly voiced by late-teen Ebla. (view spoiler)[Fed up with the traditional, unequal, patriarchal mores of her rural, nomadic encampment, she escapes from an unsought, unwanted betrothal by the early morning caravan in the dark to the meant freedom, freedom of every sort. 'One should do whatever one wants life. That is what I love.'In Belet Wene, she discovers how much the customs of the country and the town differ. Literacy, motorized transportation, social intercourse rather than silence, commercial enterprise and accounts, foreign dwellers, different dress and language expressions, etc characterize town life. The code of male behavior to women, however, repeats itself. Having fortunately arrived in time in Belet Wene to oversee her cousin's wife's childbirth and his cows and goats, he then brokers her marriage to pay a fine for his smuggling. Ebla again escapes. She and the widow neighbor's nephew (a government clerk and a teacher) elope to his Mogadiscio boardinghouse to honeymoon and marry. Being assigned to Italy for three months to study the schools there, Awill succumbs to a brief affair. Ebla inadvertently discovers Awill's faithlessness; on the morrow, she briefly marries a second man, whose wife and three companions put a curse on Ebla. That is exorcised by a Sheikh's ink-drinking ritual. By the time of Awill's return, his clothes have been brought back into his room, and Ebla has considered her circumstances through an interior monologue and has overheard Awill's remorseful soliloquy about the compromising photo. (hide spoiler)]Farah the author wasn't convincing about Ebla's dire circumstances. Ebla was always provided for and befriended. The advertisements led on readers to expect more harshness. Farah however was convincing about Ebla's discovery of her identity and beliefs. The book ends happily.

  • Val
    2019-06-21 14:05

    This book is my 'World Tour' choice for Somalia. It is the story of a young woman who leaves her traditional pastoralist way of life for a town and then the city after her grandfather chooses as a husband someone she would never have chosen for herself. She finds the traditional female role limiting, frustrating and unfair (which it is), so wants something better. Unfortunately she has so little experience of the world that she finds it difficult to imagine what she wants instead and even more difficult to achieve it, which points out the plight of women and the lack of opportunities available to them in that tradition more effectively than a catalogue of cruelty would have done.Ebla does not have much control over her life, at one point she says her only choice is whether to accept or refuse someone else's decisions. There are few opportunities for an uneducated woman and few opportunities for a woman to become educated. She does the best she can in the circumstances and manages to keep her sense of identity, her sense of self. It isn't much, but it leaves a positive message.I was quite surprised to find that the author is a man and well educated, because he displays a finely nuanced understanding of what a woman's feelings might be in his heroine's situation. (The photograph on this edition looks very appropriate as well.)

  • Millie
    2019-06-15 12:41

    This book is from the perspective of a Somalian woman who escapes from her nomadic tribe in order to find something "more." For Ebla, the main character in this book, her entire life has been restricted to a role that society, and man especially, has dictated. However, no matter where Ebla travels or what characters she meets, her role is somewhat fixed. She soon realizes that this is reality; no matter where she goes, society's expectations shall always limit her. Not only are men a part of this process, but women are also key drivers in perpetuating a patriarchal society. Throughout her journey, Ebla asks deep questions about religion, the role of woman, and what freedom means. As you read the book, you will begin to understand the underlying significance of the book's title, as well as the following:"Woman has been created from a rib and the most crooked part of the rib is the uppermost. If you try to straighten it, you will break it."Two additional comments:I was surprised to find out that the author of this book is a man! Some of the thoughts that go through Ebla's mind are things I have thought of myself---needless to say, the author did a good job in writing from the perspective of a woman. The writing style, overall, was OK. Then again, everyone has different taste in writing.

  • Catherine
    2019-06-24 18:05

    This was quite a quick read and was read for a book club that a friend and I were not able to go to. However, I am glad to have read it. While it was not as engaging or involving as I wished, it is hard to find anything bad to say against it. It simply was good and not great. It tells the story of a young woman from Somalia who runs away from home after being set in an arranged marriage by her grandfather. The book takes place in a very short period of time, less than a month. Her experiences highlight the gender roles and atrocities regularly committed against females in that particular culture. The most impressive aspect of the book is Ebla and her perspective on things. Her thoughts are intricate and while she has progressive thoughts throughout the book, the author never lets her upbringing be forgotten and many of her thoughts are rooted in her specific cultural perspective. Ebla is endearing and consistently interesting to read which helped make the book enjoyable and the insight into Somalian culture was well done. I may not have been crazy about it but I also have nothing bad to say.

  • Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
    2019-06-01 19:02

    Fairly simplistic and less insightful than much of Farah's later work. Little insight into the mind and real thought process of a Somali village woman. Instead it feels like what it is: a Westerner (or Westernized Somalian) using Western feminism to doctor the character's mindset---a description of victimization rather than any real attempt to show what space the woman would attempt to carve out for herself beyond "escape." "I'll write the story for her."

  • Eszter Faatima Sabiq
    2019-06-01 11:08

    I quite liked it. It did not try to enforce a message on the reader, the writer did not pretend to be knowledgable about Islam, just conveyed a story with lots of valid questions and a great description of everyday life in pre-war Somalia. I am happy to have accidentally found this book.

  • Jeruen
    2019-05-30 16:04

    I picked up this book because Nuruddin Farah was an author Salman Rushdie recommended, but unfortunately, I found the book rather lacking, shaky, and rather disappointing. It's a thin book, and I must say it feels incomplete.See, this book narrates the story of Ebla, a Somali girl from the country. She escapes the country and eventually finds her way to Mogadishu, upon learning that her grandfather sold her to be married to a man she hasn't met before. She seems to have very "modern" ideas given that she is coming from the country. She questions plenty of issues regarding women's rights: she wonders why women are only worth half than men when it comes to cattle, why women can only do certain things but not others, why women deal with goats but men deal with cattle, and so on. So to some extent, she is sensitive to issues of gender equality. However, her modernity stops there. She still follows her religion, which is Islam. She is superstitious. She believes in plenty of other religious doctrines and dogma. And as an atheist, I find this rather bizarre, why she could go ahead and question plenty of things regarding gender equality, yet she stops questioning religion. If she questions tradition, culture, her whole upbringing, why stop at religion? In other words, I find the narrative slightly inconsistent and hard to believe. Maybe I just pride myself as someone who tries to be consistent and principled all the time, but I think that Ebla's behavior doesn't make sense. I would expect that she either accepts everything that she is used to, including religion and unequal treatment, or she questions everything. After all, some of the gender inequality that she complains about is the direct result of how her religion views women. Why doesn't she question that? In any case, I must say that this wasn't the best book I have read. I like the fact that it was written from the perspective of the "native" so to speak. But I should also say that I have encountered books in the past that have done a way better job in narrating a story stemming from Africa from the perspective of the local. Red Strangers by Elspeth Huxley comes to mind.So yeah, I don't find myself too impressed on this one. Maybe I just had high expectations given that it is a book recommended by an author I admire. But this one just missed the mark, somehow. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.See my other book reviews here.

  • Rima
    2019-05-31 12:40

    Another story of women’s oppression, dependence and objectification. I think I have got enough of such stories in which we are grateful for the male writer who took the woman’s perspective and wrote about her victimization and helplessness.

  • Mabbz
    2019-06-06 13:44

    Interesting....i suppose a book sometimes catches you at a point when you are experiencing something, either personally or seeing those around you experience it. For me, I’m still questioning, what is marriage? It’s such different things to different people in different situations.....

  • Mary Norell Hedenstrom
    2019-06-17 17:47

    Farah writes beautifully and writes from the perspective of a Somali woman.

  • Curtis Westman
    2019-06-24 17:07

    From a Crooked Rib, by Somali author Nuruddin Farah, follows Ebla, a young nomadic girl in her escape from the country village in which she was born. Paramount to the novel's plot is the nature of womanhood in Somalian culture -- and, indeed, in Muslim culture in general. Farah is a well-known feminist, and From a Crooked Rib is demonstrable of the reasons why feminism is so important in a culture of not only patriarchal dominance, but essentially patriarchal ownership.Ebla begins her journey as her grandfather has given her hand in marriage to a much older man in exchange for a dowry. Fearing being married to a man she does not know and would not care for, she flees the village and seeks shelter in one of the nearby cities. There, she is treated as a servant by a distant family member, until she is again eventually sold into marriage.This is a distinctive pattern that follows her throughout the novel. Ebla has had her capacity for autonomy taken from her, and it seems as if the freedom she seeks is impossible, instead having her ownership passed from person to person and marriage proposal to marriage proposal. When she eventually does marry, her new husband, Awill, mistreats her terribly but she does not cry out because she hasn't the freedom to do so.Farah's construction of Ebla's character is masterful, not necessarily because she represents a realistic portrait of a young woman, but because she parallels the narration so well. Neither Ebla nor the narrator seem privy to any information whatsoever, constantly guessing at the motives of every character she comes into contact with. As a result, nobody is trustworthy and it is unclear exactly how sordid they've made her life. Bounding from marriage to marriage based on the whims of others, it is ambiguous as to whether or not Ebla is indeed in several legitimate marriages, or if she is just being used as a prostitute.From a Crooked Rib is a decent, if not enlightening read, and its subject matter is at times both horrifying and intriguing.

  • Avery Teoda
    2019-06-09 12:53

    Farah's work isn't my usual reading fare, but he was recommended to me by a colleague. I happened to pick this one up because it was one of the only Farah books on Kindle. This is a kind of "slice of life" book I really enjoy, one that gives a glimpse of a moment in time of someone's life and culture. The book is candid in its treatment of topics that would make western audiences uncomfortable--female circumcision, arranged marriages--but doesn't attempt to apologize for them. Ebla, the main character, struggles to find her place in this society that constantly limits her perspective and her options. She is frustrating at times because she doesn't react the way we think a woman should--that is, the way we think a western woman would. She begins the book by taking a brave step to liberate herself, then begins a slow back-slide into exactly the situation she was trying to avoid. It's quite honestly a bit bleak, because there is no clear, liberated happy ending, or even a clear liberation as the western reader might have it, but to me, the immediate situation isn't really the point. Like so many of the novels I tend to enjoy, this is a book about someone beginning to find her voice and to know her own mind. She takes halting steps, makes a lot of mistakes; she's very human.This is one of those books I want to revisit so I can think more about it. I consider that a compliment.

  • Andrew
    2019-06-05 15:01

    I came across this slim penguin classic in the library and had never heard of it but it was a fascinating read. The heroine Kabla is an 18 yaer old girl who is part of a nomadic tribe in the Somalian countryside whose life revolves around tending the cattle. When her grandfather gives her hand to a 48 year old man she runs away to a village where she goes to live with a distant cousin, his heavily pregnant wife and sevitude. The cousin then incurs a heavy financial penalty for smuggling and promises her to another man so she runs off again with a neighbours nephew to Mogadishu. The book pictures a girl who has never seen a car or a plane , cannot cook doesn't know what the police are or have any concept of a government at a time when in the late 1960's independence is coming. Perhaps most sad without parents she has no concept of sex and is the victim of sexual exploitation. A lot of the book is her internal monologue and at 180 pages it is short but an interesting picture of women in this society, the hypocrisy of men using religion and marriage as sexual power, and the innocence of the tribal members in modern society.

  • William
    2019-05-26 15:09

    In telling of Ebla, an 18-year-old runaway who seeks solace in the home of her Mogadishu cousin, Nuruddin Farah draws multiple comparisons to the lives of animals. In one segment, the reader hears of monkeys who cake their female’s vagina with dirt in order to stave off – or reveal signs of – adultery. In another, Ebla reflects on the camels milked, calved, and sold for their value to humans – a relationship that parallels the bartering and sale of wives to men. Ebla sees herself, her friends, and particularly the men she meets, as no better than animals – acting as animals do for affection, sex, and prestige. The young woman’s confusion about her destiny makes this a difficult novel to mine as Ebla’s journey is incomplete and articulated realistically as that of an unexposed farm girl. But it may be that simplicity is the whole point; Ebla discovers her own path from girlishness to womanhood with no ambitions greater than gaining respect as a woman, making peace in her relations with men, and finding pleasure and comfort as she can. It is a base but pure reality that finds itself corrupted and overly complicated only when put into the ironically 'elevated' hands of men.

  • Shahd Fadlalmoula
    2019-06-17 10:47

    I have mixed feelings about this book. I can safely say that I enjoyed the book in its simplicity. I don't know if Farah makes it as believable as possible, but the character is definitely someone you can sympathize with if not relate to (especially if you are a woman). Farah beautifully illustrates the struggle of finding yourself as a woman in a place like Somalia, where women are considered inferior to men; and despite being written 40 years ago I believe this book is still relevant today. I can't say I loved his literary choices or that I'd revisit this book. But I deeply appreciate how he empathetically wrote this from the perspective of a girl/woman. That is probably the main reason why I had to give this 4 stars instead of 3.. it is almost impossible to capture a story from within a woman's mind, let alone do it so well.

  • Nicole
    2019-06-02 12:01

    Although this was a short book, it took me a while to get through it. It's an easy read with intriguing content, but it's also written regarding another culture and from that point of view. It doesn't have the fast paced action, so I was able to easily put this book down and pick up several others in between. However, I had no problem diving back in without being lost in the story. The only exception is the names would sometimes be confusing, but that's just because they aren't common to my own culture. I learned a lot about the lifestyles of another part of the world and really had some food for thought. I would probably pick up another book by this author in the future, but I can see that one taking a while to get through as well.

  • Sarah
    2019-06-18 13:45

    The prose is so sparse that I had some trouble connecting the dots at times. If this were about a culture I am more familiar with, I'd have had an easier time, but the nuances of Somali nomad culture and Islam as it's practiced in East Africa are not currently in my grasp. For example, why does Ebla marry Tiffo? Is she claiming abandonment? Or is she just that naive? And maybe that's part of the author's point re: feminist issues.Farah is said to be Somalia's premier author (in a country that highly prizes language skill). This is his first novel, and I'll probably try another of his works.

  • Maundrell
    2019-06-15 14:57

    A girl's struggle to be men's even. Nonetheless equally succumbing to the advice and will of the women she comes into contact with. The text contains some valid deconstructions of the mentality, that more than the actual story, give an insight into these communities. Bit difficult to understand the presence of the women gang who beat up their husbands. The end is bewildering and unconvincing - husband and wife are rejoined; any attempt to challenge the situation apparently abandoned and forsaken.

  • Lynne
    2019-06-20 15:08

    Farah's first book is an insight into the innocence and confusion of a young Somali woman who runs from an arranged marriage to the city. The writing is uneven, sometimes arresting, sometimes awkward, but I found the insight into a country/culture in transition revealing. Ebla represents the generation of young women who struggle to break free of the old ways which include female genital mutilation, arranged marriage, and marriage/divorce of convenience.

  • Akin
    2019-06-05 16:47

    It is good, for what it is - which is a book written 37 years ago. If a writer produced this now, I'll be pissed off. NOt because it is dated - it isn't, and sadly the issue of exploitation will probably always be with us - but because it wouldn't be original now.But I digress.Disturbing at times, strangely enigmatic. Reminds me a little of L'Etranger, although I can't precisely say why.Worth reading

  • Mo
    2019-06-02 13:02

    This is a first novel and it shows - the internal narrative doesn't flow, people's motivations change from page to page, the pacing is uncertain (how much time passes throughout the book? a month? several months? two weeks?), characterization is... not emphasized, the main character's thoughts are rather randomly juxtaposed with the external events, and the prose is awkward. It's an interesting subject, but it was painful to get through.

  • Valarie
    2019-06-18 10:55

    The most interesting part of this pro-feminism novella is that it was written by a man. The story of a young woman who runs away from her nomadic tribe to the city in order to escape an arranged marriage, it is an excellent window into colonial Somalia. However, the writing style was just too obvious for me; it seemed clumsy, the way the author just flat-out stated the characters' political views, and had them announce the historical context of their lives.