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Born in the Big Rains: A Memoir of Somalia and Survival (Women Writing Africa) Paperback – April 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Women Writing Africa
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558615784
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558615786
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Beginning with its evocative opening sentence—"In the distance, a lion roared, deep and long, dismissing the night"—this impassioned, beautifully written memoir is a testament to the possibility of wedding literary prose to sophisticated political arguments. Korn grew up as a spirited girl in an Islamic Somalian nomadic tribe in the late 1960s. At seven she was forced to undergo female circumcision, in which her clitoris and labia minora were removed with crude utensils and her vagina sewn up. After chronic pain, illness and rheumatism set in, Korn went to live with her rich uncle, a government official in Mogadishu, until her circumcision-related ailments became debilitating; she was taken to Germany for medical treatment, and years later her circumcision was undone. Married to a German, Korn became involved in the European campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM). While the bulk of the book is a devastating and swiftly moving account of Korn's tragedy-filled life, it also persuasively argues that health workers must understand the power of traditional customs even as they work to end FGM. Written with German writer Eichhorst, this is a brutally honest, politically sensitive and bold addition to literature on global women's health. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Korn's remarkable memoir traces her steps from her childhood as part of a nomadic tribe in Somalia, where she was born in 1964, to her position as a spokesperson against FGM--female genital mutilation. She herself was circumcised, and sewn back up, or infibulated, at age seven. Touted as an "ancient tradition," the brutal procedure can lead to infection, chronic ailments, and loss of fertility. In Korn's case, the resulting infection led to severe joint disintegration. Her parents sent her to relatives in Mogadishu while she received treatment; from there she went to a hospital in Rome, then a clinic in Germany, where she endured operations to straighten her fingers and toes. Only after her marriage, and corrective surgery to be "opened," did she experience urination or her periods without pain. Now a German citizen, Korn helps to reeducate young African women about their societal status without this horrific procedure. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This book was quick and easy read but still captivating and intriguing.
J Fo
From her story, you are able to come away understanding the love she has for her life, family, and culture.
Avid Reader
It makes the reader aware of female circumcision and the problems associated with it.
Rebecca B. Baer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J Fo on August 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was quick and easy read but still captivating and intriguing. I found this very interesting to read after Infidel - written also by a Somali woman. The two books both speak strongly about FGM yet this book was very little about Islam. I think this book is imperative to read in conjunction with Infidel to equal the negatives and positives discussed about Islam. Another amazing book on this same topic is called Do they hear you when you cry? By Fauziya Kassindja - it truly amazing!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on February 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
An informative book that paints a moving picture of what life was like in Somalia and what it was like to grow up within a culture that accepts female genital mutilation as ritual. From her story, you are able to come away understanding the love she has for her life, family, and culture. Yet, Mrs. Fadumo Korn appeals to society to be culturally sensitive to an ancient practice, that can lead to future health problems and potential death, which she is actively trying to dissuade .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on June 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fadumo Korn was born into a nomadic Somali tribe in 1964, and her childhood was unusually free for a Somalian girl. Though her parents doted on her, they did not spare her the culturally prescribed ordeal of female circumcision when she was seven years old. The circumcision, otherwise known as female genital mutilation (FGM) changed everything about Fadumo's world: first the ordeal itself, performed by a native practitioner with unclean implements, and then the infection that took hold and gradually ruined her health.

Fadumo was sent to stay with wealthy and politically-connected relatives in Mogadishu for medical care. Eventually, in the midst of political upheaval in her country, she was sent to Europe and settled in Germany where she married and eventually found culturally sensitive medical care. After reconstructive surgery she was able to experience bodily functions without pain, and gave birth to a son. She now works with the Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development (FORWARD), an international NGO committed to " eliminating gender-based violence against African girls and women, particularly female genital mutilation and child and forced marriage" (quote from FORWARD's website). These practices are the cultural norm in certain areas of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and in some immigrant communities in Europe and North America. According to the World Health Organization, "An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM."

Born in the Big Rains: A Memoir of Somalia and Survival (Women Writing Africa) sets itself and the reader a challenging task.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lagertha on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The first portion of this book follows the young nomad Fadumo as she travels and wanders with her family in Somalia. The descriptive writing of Somalia and the scenes laid before the reader are simply breathtaking.
Then we follow the young girl as she undergoes FGM (female genital mutilation), becomes ill and travels to Germany for medical treatment. Eventually she marries and becomes a fighter against FGM.
A must-read for those wanting to see a woman's life in Africa and how FGM affects the young woman's life.
It is also an interesting read about the choices she takes in her life and the other women in her family who remain subservient and stuck.
Although how much of this is determined by her father who let her live with one uncle who was very giving and caring ---while her sister Khadija ended up with another uncle who was abusive and cruel.
In closing, this book is a quick read and you won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
The horrors of female circumcision - something long since banned in the Western world, it is still practiced in many African Countries. "Born in the Big Rains: A Memoir of Somalia and Survival" is author and feminist Fadumo Korn's story of nearly dying to the barbaric practice and her rise to becoming a spokesman against the practice. A harsh and much needed criticism against the atrocity of female genital mutilation, "Born in the Big Rains: A Memoir of Somalia and Survival" has the highest recommendation to community library women's studies collections as a bastion against this cruelty that far too many young girls in the world have been exposed to.
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Format: Hardcover
Can you imagine being born into a Somalian nomad family, and then, because of illness and the luck

of the tribe, being transported first, to a life of relative luxury, in the capitol city and ultimately to

Germany? The transition from one distinct culture to another in Europe reminds all of us of the need

to respect those aspects of traditions which bind people together and try to alter, as humanely as possible,

those traditional practices that do injury, particularly to women. This is a wonderful, courageous story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I work with a large Somali population in my work and this book gave me a better understanding of some of their cultural beliefs and actions. Even though I don't agree with their actions, it gave me a better understanding.
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