Male ‘Somaliness’ in diasporic contexts: Somali authors’ evaluative evocations

Keywords: Somali men, diaspora, affective intensity, evaluative evocation


Addressing five texts by four Somali authors—Nuruddin Farah’s Yesterday, Tomorrow: Voices from the Somali Diaspora (2000) and North of Dawn (2018) in juxtaposition with three novels by female Somali authors, i.e. Safi Abdi’s Offspring of Paradise (2003), Cristina Ali Farah’s Little Mother (201; Italian original 2007) and Igiaba Scego’s Adua (English translation 2017, Italian original 2015)—this article assesses the work these texts do to enhance contemporary understanding of the complex, evolving phenomenon that is the diasporic Somali presence in Western Europe, focusing on Somali men. How do the authors portray and (implicitly or overtly) evaluate how diasporic male Somalis cope in foreign, non-Muslim and culturally Western environments—against the backdrop of Somalia’s state collapse and social disintegration? Somali men’s experiences have generally been given less attention than those of their female counterparts, hence the focus here on male-gendered characters. This focus serves to link the two Nuruddin Farah texts and the three novels by Somali women—a textual grouping and focus not previously attempted in critical studies of Farah’s work. This brief essay assesses the five texts’ respective combinations of evaluative evocation, affective intensity and epistemological detail, approaching these works as complementing social science researchers’ efforts in depicting diasporic Somali men’s lives. By deepening understanding of the impact of the diaspora on individual Somali men, the five texts convey significant psychological, social and moral insights into lives of Somali men in foreign contexts.

Author Biography

Annie Gagiano, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Annie Gagiano is Professor Emerita in the Department of English, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa. 


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How to Cite
Gagiano, A. (2020). Male ‘Somaliness’ in diasporic contexts: Somali authors’ evaluative evocations . Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 57(1), 77-87.
Research articles