Crossbones by Nuruddin Farah

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A gripping new novel from today's "most important African novelist". (The New York Times Review of Books)

A dozen years after his last visit, Jeebleh returns to his beloved Mogadiscio to see old friends. He is accompanied by his son-in-law, Malik, a journalist intent on covering the region's ongoing turmoil. What greets them at first is not the chaos Jeebleh remembers, however, but an eerie calm enforced by ubiquitous white-robed figures bearing whips.

Meanwhile, Malik's brother, Ahl, has arrived in Puntland, the region notorious as a pirates' base. Ahl is searching for his stepson, Taxliil, who has vanished from Minneapolis, apparently recruited by an imam allied to Somalia's rising religious insurgency. The brothers' efforts draw them closer to Taxliil and deeper into the fabric of the country, even as Somalis brace themselves for an Ethiopian invasion. Jeebleh leaves Mogadiscio only a few hours before the borders are breached and raids descend from land and sea. As the uneasy quiet shatters and the city turns into a battle zone, the brothers experience firsthand the derailments of war.

Completing the trilogy that began with Links and Knots, Crossbones is a fascinating look at individuals caught in the maw of zealotry, profiteering, and political conflict, by one of our most highly acclaimed international writers.


About Nuruddin Farah

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Bob Adelman is a well-known and respected photo-documentarian and book producer. His photographs have been in collections at the Museum of Modern Art and he has won the Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts Grant, and many other awards. He lives in Miami, Florida. Calvin Tomkins is an author and art critic for the New Yorker who wrote the magazine's Art World column between 1980 and 1988. He has interviewed and written numerous profiles on major twentieth century figures from the art world, including Marcel Duchamp and Robert Rauschenberg. He lives in New York City.
Published September 1, 2011 by Penguin Books. 400 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Crossbones

Kirkus Reviews

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Meanwhile, Malik’s bother Ahl has flown to the autonomous Somali state of Puntland to track down his teenage stepson Taxliil, who ran away from his Minnesota home with some other boys to join the Shabaab group of Islamic fighters.

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Crossbones

The New York Times

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Fidno wants to tell Malik his story so the world can know the truth about piracy — which began, he explains, with helpless Somali fishermen who wanted to deter “foreigner sea bandits” from illegally overfishing their coastline and littering it with toxic waste.

Sep 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Crossbones

The Guardian

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In a hotel beside a Norwegian fjord, encircled by snow-streaked mountains, the novelist and playwright Nuruddin Farah has his mind on warmer waters."Are they pirates?"

Sep 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Crossbones

Publishers Weekly

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Somali-born Farah (Knots) completes his Past Imperfect trilogy with an insightful portrait of his African country imploding so furiously that neither well-educated citizens nor well-meaning exiles who return can alter the trajectory.

Jul 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Crossbones

Star Tribune

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The last in Farah's Past Imperfect trilogy brilliantly reproduces the quality of life and death in Somalia, a country torn by seemingly endless civil war.

Sep 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Crossbones

Christian Science Monitor

At the same time, his brother Ahl has come from Minnesota to try to locate his stepson who has disappeared and is rumored to be training to be a suicide bomber.It's the latest of fate's cruel iterations for Somalia that the country has moved from the control of warlords into the hands of the Isla...

Oct 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Crossbones

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Too many of the people we meet in Crossbones talk this way, and so we know the country far better than we know the characters moving through the story.

Oct 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Crossbones

The New York Review of Books

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Nov 08 2012 | Read Full Review of Crossbones


2012-09-25T17:47:45.147Z Thomas Rajula powerful review,i am tingling!i must read this book,which highly imposes on people of somalia to hope and make big plans for her.even in the current...

Sep 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Crossbones

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