Friday, January 7, 2011

Review: Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed

I tell you this story of war and of my father,
I tell you because no-one else will...

This story starts far away, on the streets of Aden, and long ago, in the sweltering summer of 1935.

Jama is a ten year old Somalian boy who has grown up in the slums of this ancient city, learning to survive among the cosmopolitan ragamuffins and vagabonds of the port. When he loses everything in Aden his only chance of survival lies in finding his father who disappeared years before.

But between him and his father lies a dangerous lonely expanse and just ahead is the war that will test the world to its limits.

So begins an epic journey by foot, camel, lorry and train, which will take Jama through war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt, Palestine and, finally, to the icy realms of Britain.

The book is based on the true life story of the author's father and covers the years 1935 - 1947. I liked Nadifa Mohamed's writing - there is a lot of vivid descriptive prose that brings alive the heat, the colours and sounds of Africa which provides a balance to the account of the hardship and suffering this young boy,  his country and its neighbours, suffered during these years of war and colonisation.
It was also interesting to read a WWII story that was focused on the affects in North Africa and Mussolini's grandiose plans to create a new Roman Empire in this part of the world.

Longlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize it's a story of exile and survival - heartbreaking and , at times, heartwarming.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2010

1 comment:

  1. This one is already on my list to read. It sounds like a really powerful story.