Crossbones by Nuruddin Farah

Dec 10, 2011

In Crossbones, two Americans from Minneapolis’ Somali expatriate community, in search of a runaway teenager, navigate the dangerous Mogadishu – a city torn apart by civil war, criminal anarchy, and religious extremists.  One of the men, Malik, a war correspondent, is intent on understanding the current situation and interviewing as many key players as he dares.  His brother, Ahl, is the teenager’s stepfather, who is desperately afraid for his son, Taxiil.  The family has received information that the youth is being indoctrinated as a martyr for Shabaab,… or maybe he is serving as a translator for pirates in Puntland.  Both possibilities are equally deadly. 

Crossbones is a thoughtful, evocative novel of civilian survival in war torn Somalia.  It is the third in a trilogy about this country’s modern tragedy….its slow motion disintegration and the far reaching repercussions.  The author, Nuruddin Farah, is a native of Somalia and is regarded as one of Africa’s most important contemporary novelists – reportedly a likely Nobel Prize nominee.  I liked “meeting” the resourceful and determined Somalis– Cambara, Jeebleh, Dajaal – citizens struggling through the anarchy with their civility and determination intact.  Of course, there are villains, too… but while they are amply represented and properly chastised by the author, they have already received plenty of press.

Reviewed by Library Staff