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Gifts Paperback – November 1, 2000

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Blood in the Sun Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though he has lived in exile for the last 20 years, Nuruddin Farah's eye never strays far from his native Somalia. In Maps and Secrets, the first and third volumes in his Blood in the Sun trilogy, he explored the devastating effects of tribal hatred and civil war on his society; the middle volume, Gifts, however, is of a different stripe altogether. Though also set in Somalia, it is a sunnier, more optimistic novel, and a love story, to boot. The protagonist is Duniya, a nurse at a maternity hospital in Mogadishu. Once widowed and once divorced, she has experienced the injustices heaped upon women in her culture--as a young girl Duniya was given by her father to an elderly man to be his wife; after his death she remarried, only to have her child taken from her by her alcoholic husband's family when they divorced. Free at last, she has no intentions of getting entangled again--until she meets Bosaaso, an American-educated economist who has returned to Somalia to help his country during its economic crisis:
Duniya thought that marriage was a place she had been to twice already, but love was a palace she hadn't had the opportunity to set foot in before now. If what she and Bosaaso were doing was the beginning of a long courtship that might eventually lead to such a many-roomed mansion of love, so be it. So far she had only seen glimpses of it, in a rear-view mirror, in the eyes of a driver who wasn't a taxi driver.
But love is not all Nuruddin has on his mind. He constantly reexamines the theme of gifts, from the personal gifting of one's body or heart to the impersonal "aid" bestowed by wealthy nations upon the poorer ones. But Gifts is hardly a political tract, for it consistently eschews the general in favor of the particular. In tracing Duniya's budding relationship with Bosaaso, Nuruddin not only tells the love story of two individuals but also etches a remarkable portrait of women in Somalia. The relationship between Duniya and Bosaaso is sweet, funny, and tender, but it is in her ties to her women friends and daughters that the book shines. As she learns to swim and drive, to stand up to her overbearing former in-laws and to trust her heart, it is within the context of an extended web of friends and family. Maps and Secrets expose the uglier aspects of war-torn Somalia; Gifts, on the other hand, offers its hidden strengths. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In Gifts, the second volume in Farah's Blood in the Sun trilogy (see Maps, above), the same forces of war and unrest in Somalia shape the life of Duniya, a widowed nurse with three children trying to juggle a career and the emotional needs of a mature woman in the big city. Nearing 35 years of age, she is pitied by her fellow nurses as a woman whose happiest years have already passed her by. As Duniya recalls the dearth of choices in a rigid patriarchal society, she tells how her dying father asked his friend, Zubair, to marry his young daughter and how she was unable to refuse the old blind man, who would sire her twins before dying. Over the course of Duniya's many adventures, her sanity is buttressed by her loyal friend, Bosaaso, a widower Duniya meets at the hospital. The solidity and sincerity of their unlikely relationship counteracts the pain and confusion caused by the series of mishaps that befall the resilient Duniya, who represents, in her strength and courage, the kind of women who enable Somalia to survive its darkest moments. In Gifts, as in Maps, Farah presents a remarkable portrait of unquenchable humanity in a beleaguered people. Reading both these distinctive, significant books will whet the reader's appetite for Farah's powerful early works. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140296425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140296426
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great narrative with a controversial theme as it could turn round a foundling. Excellent timing in the events. A very special approach to understand different cultures .The male role from another point of view- no superiority as a men in the main character- the role of man who enjoys be in the life of a woman leaving her the space to her to decide- The respect of a mother towards the private life of her adolescent -
A book to enjoy , don't miss it
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Firstly, the Kindle edition is rife with spelling errors and missing punctuation.

I had to read this book for a college course and it was my least favorite out of the five African novels I've read so far. The entirety of the class (~20 people, professor included) did not enjoy the book. The main theme of the book is--as the title clearly states--gifts. The protagonist, Duniya, must learn how to give gifts to and accept gifts from the people around her while also learning the true meaning of gifts. Farah does not give subtle hints of symbolism or foreshadowing, instead opting to put everything right in front of your face. There is also no secondary theme in the novel. Several other plot points are quite confusing, including the shared dreams between Duniya and Bosasso. I was surprised to find out that this book was not one that he wrote originally in Somali, as many of the passages read as if they were translated to English. Farah does give a good understanding of the role tradition plays in Somali life, especially with his frame stories about the cow and Juxaa.

Perhaps Farah's work as a playwright is better than Gifts, as he is apparently well-praised for his plays. However, I wouldn't recommend this novel to anyone before suggesting books such as Segu, Half of a Yellow Sun, or Things Fall Apart.
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By A Customer on September 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I just posted a review of Nurrudin Farah's Maps, and I wanted to make sure everyone knows the whole trilogy is brilliant. If I had to separate them, Gifts I think is the easiest to read, but all by itslef is maybe less rewarding than Maps or Secrets. But it's still an amzing book--one of the best contemporary novels that I've read--and the whole trilogy has radically reshaped changed the way I think about literature and the world.
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Format: Hardcover
Woow! When I read this book, I though this author is rather unique in this world. The language is rich and vivid. From there I decided to read all his work.
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