The Bookshelf: New(ish) Books about Somalia
A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg
This is the story of a Somali man who fled the civil war as a child and ended up in South Africa. From the book’s Amazon page:
“Throughout, A Man of Good Hope is a complex, affecting, ultimately hopeful portrait of Asad’s search for salvation, suffused with dreams and desires and a need to leave something permanent on this earth.”
The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia by Andrew Harding
This is a book about, clearly, the mayor of Mogadishu. I actually met this man at a conference several years ago, while I was working as a translator and sat at his table. I can only imagine what his life looks like in these devastating days after the awful bomb a few weeks ago.
From the Amazon page:
“The Mayor of Mogadishu is a rare an insider’s account of Somalia’s unraveling, and an intimate portrayal of one family’s extraordinary journey.”
Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations by Stefanie Chambers
This book compares the lives and adjustments of the Somali communities in Minnesota and in Ohio. As a native Minnesotan, I’ll give you a spoiler: they are more integrated in MN than in Ohio. This is most recently evident in the election of Ilhan Omar to legislature. This book is more academic than the others on this list, but it is well-researched and both informative and challenging.
From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis by Hudda Ibrahim
Speaking of Somalis in Minnesota, how did they come to settle here? I remember going out with young Somali girls when we lived in Minneapolis and my friends wore high heels and thin dresses even in the middle of January, while I stomped around in boots and fluffy winter coats.
I have not had the chance to read this book yet, but am glad to see Somali women producing their own works about their experiences and community in the US.
An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar by Reinhard Kleist
This graphic story follows the journey of Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar, from Mogadishu to the London Olympic games, across North Africa, and into the sea as she attempts to cross to Europe. Samia is seeking a better life, where she can run and live free. The book highlights the plight of so many refugees trying to cross into Europe.
I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Samia for Running Times and Runners World in 2008, both in Ethiopia and in Djibouti.
What have you been reading lately?
If you are living outside your home country, do you read books by and about the people you now live among? If you don’t – you should!
other Bookshelf posts about Somalia:
*photo by Matt Erickson