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Links Hardcover – March 25, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Past Imperfect Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this stunning, timely novel from the internationally acclaimed Somalian writer Farah (From a Crooked Rib, etc.), Jeebleh, a middle-aged Somalian, leaves his family in New York to return for the first time in 20 years to his birthplace, civil war–torn Mogadishu. Having been a political prisoner before leaving the country, he's not anxious to go back, but feels responsibility for his family (he must settle his late mother's accounts, and make peace with her spirit) and for his oldest friend, Bile, whose niece, Raasta, and her playmate have been kidnapped. Bile's murderous, hedonistic stepbrother, Caloosha—who'd had Jeebleh imprisoned, two decades earlier—is now one of the city's notorious clan warlords and likely involved in the kidnapping. Jeebleh is horrified to see a city familiar yet terribly changed, where he is surrounded by gun-toting, qaat-chewing teenagers with hair-trigger tempers, family elders offended by his refusal to give them money to buy arms, and an associate of Caloosha's who collects dead bodies for reburial. Jeebleh fulfills his duties and reawakens his connections with his clan only when he sets his ideals aside, as he makes his way through the country's political and social labyrinths. Farah skillfully delineates the emotional transformations that take place in Jeebleh as he becomes accustomed to his changed homeland, a corrupt society where powerless citizens act on a moment-to-moment basis, whether for good or for ill, in order to survive, and where—as both Jeebleh and the reader discover—nothing is as simple as it first appears. The publication of this beautifully written book should be one of the year's literary events.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

This Somali novelist, who won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1998, lives in exile in South Africa but, in his fiction, regularly returns to probe the "Dantean complexity" of his homeland. In his ninth novel, an exiled Somali dissident named Jeebleh goes back to Mogadishu after more than twenty years to search for his mother's grave and to settle old scores in the noxious hodgepodge of clan-based militias, warlords, and trigger-happy American soldiers. Jeebleh, now a university professor in New York with an American wife and two daughters, expects that his voyage will reinforce the great divide between his new life and the violent inhabitants of the "city of death." Instead, after the abduction of a friend's daughter, he discovers his own capacity for violence and his thirst for "justice, by any means possible."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573222658
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573222655
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #792,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In LINKS, a novel set in Somalia after the U.S. "peacekeeping" invasion, Nuruddin Farah has created a powerful psychological landscape of a people torn by civil war. Jeebleh arrives via airplane in Mogadiscio and at once witnesses the senseless murder of a ten year old German boy. When he learns that the teenagers who shot the boy kill for sport, he realizes his beloved country has sunk further than he had imagined. This Somalia is not a land of logic, not one of law and order. Yet, Jeebleh, once a political prisoner, has returned to his homeland for reasons which aren't readily apparent and which put his life in danger. His childhood friends, half-brothers who were raised by Jeebleh's mother as her own sons, oppose each other, thus bringing the precarious nature of this civil war deep into Jeebleh's personal life. Bile is Jeebleh's dear friend, a pacifist, medical doctor, and idealist who runs a refuge for those displaced by the war; Bile has suffered greatly during a lengthy imprisonment and still bears the scars. Caloosha, Bile's older half brother, is a war lord, torturer, and former captor of both Jeebleh and Bile. Caloosha is now suspected of being behind the kidnapping of Bile's charmed and beloved niece Raasta and her playmate. Raasta, who is seen as a miracle child and peacemaker, has become a symbol of hope for many, and her recovery has implications not only for those who love her but for Somalia as a whole.
In Farah's Somalia, no one can be trusted. Suspicions run so deep that an enemy can be a temporary savior and a friend can endanger one's life. It is a land scarred by gunshot and desperate poverty. Despite its harrowing decline, Farah's deep affection for his homeland radiates in his descriptions. His sorrow for what has happened resonates in every word.
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Format: Hardcover
Returning to Somalia twenty years after he was imprisoned and then sent into exile, Jeebleh arrives at a remote Mogadiscio airport now under the control of a major warlord. He has arrived from his adopted home in America to help his cousin Bile, affiliated with a warlord in the south of the city, find and rescue his kidnapped daughter and a friend. Because he belongs to the same clan as the warlord in the north, Jeebleh may be in a particularly good position to help if the child has been taken by a rival. The political situation is so tangled, however, that at times no one really knows who is allied with whom. "Here," someone says, "we don't think of 'friends' anymore. We rely on our clansmen...sharing ancestral blood."
It is not accidental that Jeebleh has received his doctorate for his book on Dante's Inferno, the symbolic parallel for the existentialist nightmare we see in Somalia. "We are at best good badmen or bad badmen," a Somali tells him as he tries to navigate the minefield of loyalties in Mogadiscio and stay alive. As Jeebleh tries to figure out whether his cousin Bile is one of the "good badmen" or "bad badmen" and whether Bile's half-brother in the north is involved in the kidnapping, we learn about his family background, Somali culture and history, and the mysterious associates of various warlords who want to "help" Jeebleh. The novel is filled with high tension as various characters, including Jeebleh, are pulled in different directions by circumstances over which they have no control. His enigmatic dreams and nightmares are much like the reality of life in Mogadiscio, where the crows and vultures are now tame because they are so well fed by the violence.
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Format: Hardcover
This was a provocative ,inspiring read . Farah takes us to a place that exists in the present but is also surreal . It is a story of redemption and self -exploration ,written in a true voice .
I thouroughly enjoyed the intimacy of Farahs writing . The characters were real and represented both good and evil . Sometimes within the same persona ! Nuruddin Farah has taken us to a place that we could never fully appreciate without his flourishing prose.
This novel should be read by anyone who wishes to explore the inner recesses of the Somalian culture and the pathos that exists during any rebellion .
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