Magazine article New Internationalist

The Orchard of Lost Souls

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Orchard of Lost Souls

Article excerpt

The Orchard of Lost Souls

by Nadifa Mohamed (Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978 1 47111 529 5)

Nadifa Mohamed's gripping second novel plunges the reader into late-1980s Somalia, as Siad Barre's dictatorship begins to crumble. She tells the stories of three women living in the doomed northern city of Hargeisa: Kawsar, an ageing widow; an abandoned child named Deqo, and Filsan, a brutal government soldier from the south.

It is the widow Kawsar's world, above all, that seeps into the senses: a world of wry humour, clanking bangles and debilitating loss. Kawsar, who nurses a grudge against the regime, is on the receiving end of a vicious beating from the soldier Filsan after defending Deqo from a pro-government militia. A complex story ensues, in which cruelty is mitigated by friendship - a steaming lamb stew brought to a prison cell or an exit visa procured as persecution in Somaliland heightens. …

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