Anxiety and influence in Nuruddin Farah and younger Somali writers
During his exile, Nuruddin Farah believed that he would return to a democratic Somalia once Muhammed Siyad Barre had been removed from power. However, this vision was lost when civil war followed the dictator’s fall. Since then, Farah has made several return visits to Somalia. He claims in interviews and articles that he continues to care about Somalia whereas others have abandoned the country. The emotional engagement that Farah shows in his book on Somali refugees, Yesterday, Tomorrow: Voices from the Somali Diaspora emerges again in his Past Imperfect trilogy. This can be seen in the ways in which older Somali characters interact with a younger generation, seeking to instruct, develop and protect them. This shows a certain anxiety about influence. It is as if Farah is attempting to re-assert his long-held position as the pre-eminent author and interpreter of Somalia and the Somali diaspora during a period in which there has been a proliferation of literary writing by younger Somalis. This essay examines Farah’s trajectory from exile to cosmopolitan writer and his anxiety in the Past Imperfect trilogy and other writing. It further considers whether there are constructive linkages between Farah’s work and that of selected younger Somali writers.
Ali, Elmi. “Diriye Osman: F is for Fairytales.” Another Africa. 3 Jul. 2013.
Ali Farah, Ubah Cristina. “A Dhow Crosses the Sea.” Asymptote. https://www.asymptotejournal.com/special-feature/ubah-cristina-ali-farah-a-dhow-crosses-the-sea/.
Ali Farah, Ubah Cristina. “An Interview with Cristina (Ubax) Ali Farah.” WardheerNews, 7 Aug. 2015. https://wardheernews.com/an-interview-with-cristina-ubax-ali-farah-the-author-of-the-novels-madre-piccola-little-mother-and-il-comandante-del-fiume-the-commander-of-the-river/
Ali Farah, Ubah Cristina. Little Mother. Indiana U P, 2011.
Ali Farah, Ubah Cristina. “Rosso.” Wasafiri vol. 23, no. 4, 2008, pp. 29–31. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02690050802407912.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. Penguin, 2006.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “Nuruddin Farah.” BOMB Magazine. 1 Apr. 2004. bombmagazine.org/articles/nuruddin-farah/.
DiMaio, Alessandra. “Introduction: Pearls in Motion.” Little Mother, by Cristina Ali Farah. Indiana U P, 2011, pp. xv–xxiii.
Farah, Nuruddin. Une aiguille nue. Terre d’écritures, 2007.
Farah, Nuruddin. “By the Book.” The New York Times, 13 Nov. 2014. www.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/books/review/nuruddin-farah-by-the-book.html?ref=review.
Farah, Nuruddin. Close Sesame. Allison & Busby, 1983.
Farah, Nuruddin. “A Country in Exile.” World Literature Today vol. 72, no. 4, 1998, pp. 713–5. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/40154257.
Farah, Nuruddin.. Crossbones. Granta Books, 2012.
Farah, Nuruddin. From a Crooked Rib. Heinemann, 1970.
Farah, Nuruddin. Hiding in Plain Sight. Oneworld, 2015.
Farah, Nuruddin. “In Praise of Exile.” Literature in Exile, edited by John Glad. Duke U P, 1990, pp. 64–7.
Farah, Nuruddin. Knots. Penguin, 2007.
Farah, Nuruddin. Links. Duckworth, 2005.
Farah, Nuruddin. Maps. Pantheon, 1986.
Farah, Nuruddin. “My Life as a Diplomat.” The New York Times. 26 May 2007. www.nytimes.com/2007/05/26/opinion/26farah.html.
Farah, Nuruddin. A Naked Needle. Heinemann, 1976.
Farah, Nuruddin. “Of Tamarind and Cosmopolitanism.” African Cities Reader, edited by Ntone Edjabe and Edgar Pieterse. Chimurenga, 2010, pp. 178–81.
Farah, Nuruddin. Secrets. Penguin, 1999.
Farah, Nuruddin. “The Start of the Affair.” The New Yorker, 15 Dec. 2014. www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/22/start-affair.
Farah, Nuruddin. Yesterday, Tomorrow: Voices from the Somali Diaspora. Cassell, 2000.
Fazel, Shirin Ramzanali. Lontana da Mogadiscio. Datanews, 1994.
France 24. “Prominent Somalian writer Nuruddin Farah.” France24, 8 Apr. 2010. www.france24.com/en/20100408-prominent-somalian-writer-nuruddin-farah.
Garuba, Harry. “‘Dreaming on Behalf of the Community’: A Conversation with Nuruddi Farah.” Boundary 2 vol. 44, no. 2, 2017, pp. 1–13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3826600.
Garuba, Harry. “Teacherly Texts: Imagining Futures in Nuruddin Farah’s Past Imperfect Trilogy.” Boundary 2 vol. 44, no. 2, 2017, pp. 15–30. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3826609.
Halabi, Zeina G. The Unmaking of the Arab Intellectual: Prophecy, Exile and the Nation. U of Edinburgh P, 2018.
Here on Earth. “Somalia through Nuruddin Farah’s Eyes.” Wisconsin Public Radio. 7 Sep. 2011. www.wpr.org/listen/245826.
Hirchi, Mohammed. “Entretien avec Abdourahman Waberi.” The French Review vol. 79, no. 3, 2006, pp. 598–603.
Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA). Grands Entretiens: Nuruddin Farah. entretiens.ina.fr/afriques/Farah/nuruddin-farah.
Masterson, John. The Disorder of Things: A Foucauldian Approach to the Work of Nuruddin Farah. Wits U P, 2013.
Mohamed, Nadifa. Black Mamba Boy. HarperCollins, 2010.
Mohamed, Nadifa.“Nadifa Mohamed on Somali Writers.” Asymptote. www.asymptotejournal.com/special-feature/nadifa-mohamed-on-somali-writers/.
Mohamed, Nadifa. The Orchard of Lost Souls. Simon & Schuster, 2013.
Mohamed, Nadifa. “The Town That Pioneered Multiculturalism.” The Guardian. 7 Mar. 2017. www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/07/multiculturalism-ethnic-diversity-butetown-cardiff.
Moolla, F. Fiona. “Reflecting back, projecting forward: An Interview with Nuruddin Farah.” Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, vol. 57, no. 1, 2020, pp. 23-29.
Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts (NCLA). “Nuruddin Farah and Abdulrazak Gurnah.” The NCLA Archive. 25 Feb. 2015. archive.nclacommunity.org/content/?p=1872.
Niemi, Minna. “Witnessing Contemporary Somalia from Abroad: An Interview with Nuruddin Farah.” Callaloo vol. 35, no. 2, 2012, pp. 330–40. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/cal.2012.0056.
Odhiambo, Tom. “Nuruddin Farah on being a true African.” Daily Nation. 12 Dec. 2015. www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/weekend/Nuruddin-Farah-on-being-a-true-African/1220-2993330-too9wvz/index.html.
Osman, Diriye. Fairytales for Lost Children. Team Angelica, 2013.
Osman, Diriye. “No Victimhood —Writing a Proud Gay Somali Experience.” Black Look. 21 Dec. 2012, blacklooks.org/2012/12/no-victimhood-writing-a-proud-gay-somali-experience/.
Osman, Diriye. “Why We Must Tell Our Own Stories.” Diriye Osman/The Afrosphere. 23 Oct. 2017. www.diriyeosman.com/single-post/2017/10/23/Why-We-Must-Tell-Our-Own-Stories.
Rollmann, Hans. “Nadifa Mohamed: Writing the Lives of Somalia’s Women.” PopMatters. 23 Jun. 2015, www.popmatters.com/194787-nadifa-mohamed-2495514628.html?rebelltitem=1.
Said, Edward. “Reflections on Exile.” Reflections on Exile and Other Literary and Cultural Essays. Granta, 2001, pp. 173–86.
Stonebridge, Lyndsey. Placeless People: Writing, Rights and Refugees. Oxford U P, 2018.
The Story. “Looking Back to Somalia.” American Public Radio, 4 Aug. 2011.
The Strand. Nuruddin Farah interviewed by Sarfraz Mansoor. BBC Sounds. 5 Jul. 2012. www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00tvk74.
Taylor, Magnus. “An interview with Nadifa Mohamed: I don’t feel bound by Somalia … but the stories that have really motivated me are from there.” African Arguments. 1 Nov. 2013. africanarguments.org/2013/11/01/an-interview-with-nadifa-mohamed-i-dont-feel-bound-by-somaliabut-the-stories-that-have-really-motivated-me-are-from-there-by-magnus-taylor/.
Vickers, Brittany. “Somali Author Nuruddin Farah Speaks Truth to Power [Interview]”. Ebony. 14 Jan. 2015. www.ebony.com/entertainment/somali-author-nuruddin-farah-speaks-truth-to-power-333/.
Waberi, Abdourahman A. The Land without Shadows. Foreword by Nuruddin Farah. U of Virginia P, 2005.
Waberi, Abourahman A., & Schoolcraft, Ralph. “Organic Metaphor in Two Novels by Nuruddin Farah.” World Literature Today vol. 72, no. 4, 1998, pp. 775–80. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/40154269.
World Book Club. “Nuruddin Farah—Maps.” BBC. 3 Apr. 2016. www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03p54m5.
Wright, Derek. “Introduction.” Emerging Perspectives on Nuruddin Farah, edited by Derek Wright. Africa World P, 2002, pp. xv–xxv.
Wright, Derek. The Novels of Nuruddin Farah. Bayreuth U, 2004.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.