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Secrets Paperback – December 1, 1999
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From the Back Cover
Secrets displays Farah's talents to the fullest. His "daring, lush, urbane voice" (The New York Times Book Review) evokes the beauty and tragedy that is Africa. It will stand as one of the great works of modern African literature.
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Readers should be prepared for a multi-layered narrative, which moves at a glacial pace through long dialogues and monologues, analyzing a complexity of clues to the mystery at its heart. Meanwhile, there are motifs of birds, moments of magical realism, fits of melodrama, and a running gloss of folk tales, epigrams, and portentous dreams. Points of view shift among characters, and we realize that while all of this is going on, a culture with its beginnings in a pre-Islamic world is now coming to its end. This is a sophisticated novel for sophisticated readers, its contents meant to tease the intellect as well as the more prurient imagination.
Not many people have read African authors, especially contemporary African authors, and this is a shame. Nuruddin Farah's work is a perfect representation and a very strong introduction to the obscure African literary canon. This is a bold and challanging work--one that will teach readers an awful lot about Somalian life and engage them in a brilliant story, as well.
The story is set in Mogadiscio, Somalia during the horrific civil war, but readers should not let the setting frighten them away. One need not know anything about the conflict in order to enjoy the book. Farah has taken care of all of the details readers require. The plot involves the protagonist Kalaman's experiences upon receiving a visit from a childhood friend Sholoongo who wishes to bear his child. Her mysterious appearance causes Kalaman to confront his past's secrets and discover his own true identity.
Farah's writing almost outshines his own story with its jewel-like descriptions and sensuous, organic details. His poetic and magical writing is engrossing as are his curious characters who are unlike any I have met in other novels. This is a novel that will transport the reader to a particular time and place in Africa and fill it with spellbinding details that are both very real and very magical. Animals have totemic significance and secrets, as the title suggests, are the focus of many, many mysteries in the book. In fact, the word "secret" appears hundreds of times and is used in as many ways in this book. That, in itself, is amazing indeed.
This is a multi-layered, and multi-faceted novel, and its subplots, magical realism, and variety of speakers make this a challenging book, but if you are intrigued with African or are looking for an extraordinary story written in a very unique style, this book will not disappoint you.
Top international reviews
a huge window into another culture,even though am an African myself
i cannot deny the differences btwn west Africa and Somalian, i enjoy and could not put down this book
its pure joy to read this book,well constructed and the narration is that of a master story teller
excellent book,The author is a brilliant mind who dissected and reveal the secrets of a secretive/conservative people
its open sesame,is anything hidden under the sun where Farah is?
Farahs pen is a big whip .