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Karttoja (1986)

Tekijä: Nuruddin Farah

Sarjat: Blood in the Sun (1)

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A Somali youth is torn between duty to family and country. On the one hand Askar, an orphan, should look after his foster mother, on the other he wants to be a man and emulate his father who died fighting the Ethiopians. By an English-speaking Somali writer, author of Secrets.
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The first on Farah's Blood in the Sun trilogy, Maps examines belonging and identity through the voice of narrator Askar. A Somali orphan born/raised (until about age 7/8) in the Ogaden, an area assigned to Ethiopia by colonial powers but claimed by Somalia. Askar's mother died at birth, his father fighting for the Ogaden. Askar is found and raised by Misra, an unmarried woman of somewhat mysterious origins--but of Ethiopian descent. She is also a strong woman--she raises this boy, and does not marry. Askar spends his childhood confused about the relationships she has with his paternal uncle and with his school master.

Askar is then sent to his maternal uncle and wife in Mogadiscio, where it is safer. He attends school and grows up--and must decide if he will apply to university or fight for the Ogaden. Misra comes to Mogadiscio during this time, and Askar is very very confused by his own past, he past, and who they all are.

Who is Askar? Is he Somali? Can Misra be Somali after raising him as her own? She has acted as his mother--how can they not be the same? But he also questions her choices. Why was he not sent to family immediately? Is blood what makes us who we are, or is it love? Nature vs nurture. Why do people turn on Misra because of her Ethiopian origin, when they have known her for decades? Should Askar turn on her too? ( )
  Dreesie | Feb 1, 2023 |
"Tendo como pano de fundo a disputa entre etíopes e somalis pelo território do Ogaden, o autor traça um retrato extraordinário de sua gente e de sua terra. Funda, assim, a memória escrita de uma nação de poetas e contadores de histórias, herdeiros de uma cultura de tradição oral.

Acompanhamos a infância e a adolescência de Askar, órfão somali adotado por uma mulher etíope. Askar vive o dilema do amor pela mãe de criação e o compromisso com seu povo.

Nesta narrativa dramática, carregada de lirismo e tensão, o autor transporta o leitor para um canto remoto da África, ao mesmo tempo em que cria personagens de dimensão verdadeiramente universal". (Texto da editora) ( )
  casa.da.arvore.pg | Oct 15, 2020 |
One almost needs a map to make sense of this novel. It's not that the story is convoluted; it's more the way the story is told. At its core, Maps is exquisitely written with a story that is perhaps a bit too drawn out, but is interesting nonetheless. The language Farah uses to craft this story is phenomenal. There is beauty in the simple construction of many sentences, philosophy in the placing of others. If Maps is any indication, Farah is a very talented writer with a particular knack for the English language (Farah writes in English despite it not being his first language).

For a reader such as myself, I wonder if Farah isn't too clever. I have a feeling this book offered more profound statements than I was able to take away from it. Particularly, what was the reason behind all the shifts in Maps? There are shifts in time, place, reality, and, most distracting, in point-of-view. Farah heavily utilizes first, second, and third person in Maps, switching at the end of nearly every chapter. Also, there seem to be questions of gender and gender identity at the heart of the novel, but I never spent enough time on the text to decipher what message I was supposed to walk away with.

I liked Maps sufficiently, but Farah isn't the kind of author I'd run to again. Linguistically, he reminds me of a more philosophical, more poetic Aleksandar Hemon (another author who wrote in a secondary language), but I found it difficult to stay engaged in the story. Perhaps it was just me and where I was at the moment in life. ( )
  chrisblocker | Jul 22, 2016 |
Maps is a novel by Nuruddin Farah, a chronicler of modern Africa's sociopolitical turbulence and growth who has lived in exile from his native Somalia since 1974. The first in a trilogy of novels, Maps is rich in concept and execution, beautifully worked in the dense, intricate prose. It tells the story of Askar, orphaned as a child, who is rescued from his dead mother's side and raised in a small village by Misra, an older woman who develops a mysterious, protective bond with him.

Eventually he moves to the capital to live with his prosperous Uncle Hilaal; however, Askar's origins continue to preoccupy him, and he grows into a serious, introspective youth fixed on the urgent question of his identity. Thus we have the central theme of this novel - identity - a theme that is woven with complexity as Askar begins with close ties to Misra, his substitute mother, and as he grows into young manhood with ties to the land, Somalia, metaphorically represented by maps which he studies and learns about first from Misra and later from Hilaal. It is with Misra that the boy Askar begins his journey toward becoming a man.

"Indubitably, she had done a most commendable job, training him in the nomadic lore of climatic and geographic importance -- that it was the earth which received the rains, the sky from whose loins sprang water and therefore life; that the earth was the womb upon whose open fields men and women grew food for themselves and for their animals. And man raised huts and women bore children and the cows grazed on the nearby pastures, the goats likewise; and the boy became a man," (p 134)

There are unique and striking images presented as Askar lives with Misra. Those of water and of blood, dreams of a future that is yet unknown.
"Water: I associate with joy; blood: not so much with pain as with lost tempers and beatings. But I associate something else with blood -- future as read by Misra. Once I even made a pun -- my future is in my blood." (p 36)
It gradually becomes true that Askar's blood and future are indelibly connected with Somalia. But her continues his search for identity. His father had died for the future of Somalia and Askar is taught about the past:
"'Whose are the unburied corpses?' Then the man smiled. He said: 'Our memories, our collective or if you like, our individual pasts. We leave our bodies in order that we may travel light -- we are hope personified. After all, we are the dream of a nation." (p 129)

Hilaal, the cook and nurturer in his city home of Mogadiscio, is able to provide some answers for his baffled nephew on the subjects of African tradition, Somalian manhood and selflessness. Employing a poetic, imaginative style, Farah skillfully juxtaposes Askar's emotional turmoil and the struggles of his beloved Somalia under siege, as the characters try to understand why blood must be shed for territorial gain. In the end, Askar must choose between avenging his soldier father's death by joining the army, or pursuing his academic studies, but the choice is taken out of his hands by powerful external forces.

This is a poetic coming-of-age story, following in the tradition of Dickens and many others. Farah makes it new with his poetic style, a unique narrative voice using different points of view, and with the complex relationships between family, friends, and the land. The result is a wonderful tale of searching for the identity of one's inner and outer self in a difficult world. ( )
1 ääni jwhenderson | Oct 24, 2014 |
Maps (1986) by Nuruddin Farah represents Somalia for Around the World for a Good Book. The novel tells the story of Askar a boy whose father dies in the war before he was born and whose mother dies shortly after his birth. He's rescued and raised by an Ethiopian outsider Misra. Much of the book details the close relationship of Askar to his foster mother described in language bordering on the erotic. Farah also plays with narrative by rotating the chapters from Second Person to First Person to Third Person.

Reading books from Around the World helps fill in some of the huge gaps in my knowledge. I'd never heard of the war between Somalia and Ethiopia which is the bloody backdrop of this book. The novel also focuses on the theme of identity, contrasting the ethnic and familial backgrounds of the characters. As he grows up he moves in with family in Mogadiscio and learns from a far that the land of his birth has been conquered. Misra's Ethiopian identity leads her to be suspected of treason with tragic results. This novel is full of pain and heartbreak. ( )
1 ääni Othemts | Sep 30, 2008 |
näyttää 5/5
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A Somali youth is torn between duty to family and country. On the one hand Askar, an orphan, should look after his foster mother, on the other he wants to be a man and emulate his father who died fighting the Ethiopians. By an English-speaking Somali writer, author of Secrets.

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