Book Review: Maps by Nuruddin Farah

Book Review: Maps (1986) by Nuruddin Farah represents Somalia for Around the World for a Good Book. The novel tells the story of Askar a boy whose father dies in the war before he was born and whose mother dies shortly after his birth.  He’s rescued and raised by an Ethiopian outsider Misra.  Much of the book details the close relationship of Askar to his foster mother described in language bordering on the erotic.  Farah also plays with narrative by rotating the chapters from Second Person to First Person to Third Person.

Reading books from Around the World helps fill in some of the huge gaps in my knowledge.  I’d never heard of the war between Somalia and Ethiopia which is the bloody backdrop of this book.  The novel also focuses on the theme of identity, contrasting the ethnic and familial backgrounds of the characters.  As he grows up he moves in with family in Mogadiscio and learns from a far that the land of his birth has been conquered. Misra’s Ethiopian identity leads her to be suspected of treason with tragic results.  This novel is full of pain and heartbreak.

Author Farah, Nuruddin, 1945-
Title Maps / Nuruddin Farah.
Publication Info. New York : Pantheon Books, c1986.
Edition 1st American ed.
Description 246 p. ; 21 cm.