My review of Nurrudin Farah's Crossbones has been published over at the Barnes and Noble Review. It starts thus:
Most Americans, if they think of Somalia at all, know it only from Black Hawk Down, the 2001 film adaptation of Mark Bowden's 1999 account of the bloody Battle of Mogadishu. Tragic though those events were, they represent a mere sliver of the decades of internal strife that have left Somalia one of the poorest and most violent countries in the world. Moving from Communist rule to dictatorship to civil war, there has been no functioning central government for twenty years. Warlords and clan factions have given way to militant Islam, and pirates terrorize the coastal waters. "That unfortunate country, cursed with those dreadful clanspeople, forever killing one another and everyone around them," is the bleak précis offered by one of Nuruddin Farah's characters. It's to this unpromisingly harrowing milieu that Farah has tirelessly devoted himself for eleven novels that paint a more nuanced picture of the country's woes than one is likely to find on CNN.