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Crossbones (Past Imperfect #3)

3.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  125 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
A gripping new novel from today's "most important African novelist" ("The New York Times Book Review")

A dozen years after his last visit, Jeebleh returns to his beloved Mogadiscio to see old friends. He is accompanied by his son-in-law, Malik, a journalist intent on covering the region's ongoing turmoil. What greets them at first is not the chaos Jeebleh remembers, however
ebook, 400 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Penguin Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 483)
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Mark Staniforth
Oct 12, 2012 Mark Staniforth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
High-octane, high-seas shanties; eye-patches and cutlasses; bounties and buccaneers: all are conspicuous by their absence in 'Crossbones', Nuruddin Farah's gruelling yet gripping account of life in modern-day Somalia - it's piracy, but not as we know it.
Farah is ideally placed to examine the extraordinary strife afflicting his homeland, which he talks about in an excellent recent Guardian interview. 'Crossbones' - its piratical reference deployed with a delicious hint of irony - is the third and
Dec 11, 2013 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 21st-century
I was excited to meet Jeebleh and Cambara again from the first two books of the "Past Imperfect" trilogy. And this is the best of the three, for me. A really engrossing story, and an enlightening representation of a Somalia best known for its piracy. And a really good ending (that is not a resolution).

The narrator goes out of his way not only to educate us about the origins of that piracy, but even to embed reading recommendations within the text. Which might seem a bit preachy--but it's eye-ope
Bob Fowler
An unusual and interesting novel about modern Somalia, a land which we normallyu get only a glimpse of from negative news reports. The author is a Somali living in Minneapolis (and Cape Town) who has an understanding of Somali culture and, thus, helps us understand what it would be like to walk the streets of Mogadiscio [his spelling] or Bosaso in Puntland. The plot deals with two American-Somali men who travel to these regions: one to try and find a young relative that he fears has left the US ...more
Diane Brown
Dec 30, 2013 Diane Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-books
Crossbones by Nuruddin Farah delves into modern day Somalia. It paints a picture of a very difficult country to live in, with no room for trust, even among family members. A man's stepson disappears from the USA suspected of being recruited from a Mosque there, to join Shabaab. The man travels to Somalia to search for the boy, with a journalist relative. The journalist, whilst in Somalia, interviews warlords, pirates and middlemen trying to get to the bottom of his question -- Why are Somalians ...more
Oct 27, 2013 Writeratthesea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly engaging book that reveals Somalia through the eyes of a native. The author, Nuruddin Farah uses history, his personal knowledge of the many dynamics, like piracy, that exist in Somalia to weave a story about a man and his two sons who travel to native Somalia at the time Ethiopia invades. One son, a journalist, is trying to get an interview with a Somali warlord, while his brother is trying to find his step-son who is mixed-up with El Shabob.

If you're looking for a book that gives y
Literary  Chanteuse
I won this book. Although intelligently written I felt a bit of a struggle to keep engaged completely by the story. Once I finally established the characters and got to know them it developed for me a little however once I reached the end I was quite disappointed. It's certainly not a bad book, it's just not one that was my cup of tea.
Laurie Mcclary
Jan 18, 2012 Laurie Mcclary rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book helped me understand how corrupt government affects people. The plot was slow and I had to concentrate to understand. I would not recommend this as a easy read, enjoyable read or anything other then a chance to learn how people survive when their government is corrupt, criminal and evil.
Mar 03, 2015 Stormy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2012 Novel. To be reviewed by CO RPCV bookclub, 4/8/15. Politically courageous and often gripping... Crossbones provides a sophisticated introduction to present-day Somalia, and to the circle of poverty and violence that continues to blight the country. – The New York Times Book Review

Read this over 2 days. Brought back to mind Great Decisions Discussion Topic of Somalia among the countries along the Horn of Africa. Reading a story about Westerners in Somalia experiencing the poverty, the war an
Jay Fromkin
A young man of Somali descent disappears from his Minneapolis home. His stepfather, Ahl, and uncle, Malik, a journalist, travel to Somalia in an attempt to find him and bring him home. This is the post-Blackhawk Down Somalia, before and in the early days of the Ethiopian invasion to drive out the Islamic Courts and restore - with U.S. backing - a more secular government. It is a dangerous country for everyone, particularly journalists and opponents of the Courts. The author takes the reader on a ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
A complex story that portrays the horrible things that are inevitable at the intersection of religion, tribalism and politics. This was a difficult book to read, but worth the time it took.

A dinner conversation -

" 'What are the essential differences between the terrorists and the insurgents?' Ahl says.

'The terrorists massacre the innocent purposely, whereas the insurgents' resistance to the Ethiopian occupation compels their opponents, that is to say the Ethiopians or the Somalis fighting in th
• This is the 3rd bk in The Past Imperfect trilogy – I did not read the first two books. Each of the books looks at the recent period in the history of Somalia – the books are done in chronological order
• This book looks at the period right before the Ethiopian (w/ US help) invasion
• This book gives a personal look through the characters about what you read in the news about the conditions of Somalia. It helped put a lot of the current events into perspective for me.
• I am not quite sure how to
Jan 15, 2012 Ajk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like, really enjoyed The Kite Runner.
Shelves: fiction
I picked this up mostly based on "Oh yeah, I've heard the name Nuruddin Farah, I should read him" and the fact that Stephanie Huntwork made a beautiful cover for this novel. I've made bigger mistakes, to be sure.

It is the story of two Somali-American brothers who go to Somalia for different reasons: one to cover the story of the Courts' war with Ethiopia, one to find his missing stepson. It's potential for a great story, and it generally was.

However, it led sometimes into Kite Runner territory.
Liesl Louw-Vaudran

Nurrudin Farrah has a very particular style and sometimes one feels that web of individuals caught up in war-torn Somalia are mostly one- dimensional. There is a certain detachment that makes it difficult to read at times. Nevertheless, the book makes some important points about the issue of piracy and the situation in Somalia at the time of the Ethiopian invasion and the demise of the Islamic Courts. Farah clearly believes the international media has distorted the truth about piracy and about w
Feb 02, 2016 Connie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A slog of a read but an important study of family, cultural, economic, political, and religious pressures in our time of multicultural migration, terrorism, and extremism.
Colette Morrow
This is a fantastic book that gives an engaging treatment of many of the post-911 issues that touch our lives. The focus is on two brothers and a father-in-law who are US citizens and travel to their ancestral homeland, Somalia, just as Ethiopia invades (actual historical event). One brother is searching for his son, who allegedly joined a radical terrorist group. The other brother is a journalist. The father-in-law is visiting old friends. Fascinating! Historically accurate! Eye-opening. The au ...more
Dec 11, 2014 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Going into this novel, I didn't know much about the conflicts in Somalia. And by didn't know much, that means not at all. There was a lot of political facts and whatnot disguised as dialogue in there but by no means was it boring or dry in any way. It was quite the opposite - engrossing and thought-provoking all while being super informative. Paired with gorgeous writing with off-kilter metaphors and a perfect resolution (not conclusion, however), this book proves to be one of my favourites all ...more
Apr 14, 2013 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Third in trilogy about Somali diaspora returning to Mogadishu. This novel traces two story lines--a Somali-American journalist trying to get interviews with a Somali warlord and pirate, another Somali-American trying to bring his step-son from Minneapolis back home, out of the grasp of El Shabob. More Black Hawk Down counter narrative. The on-the-ground perspective of everyday life in Mogadishu, the Somali civil war, American and international involvement, is fresh and compelling. I strongly rec ...more
This was a hard book to read. I'm glad I read it, and I'm so glad to be done. I didn't like living in the world of wartime Somalia, in a place where it is so hard to know who to trust, and where many are killed for all kinds of reasons that don't make sense to me. There is still so much I don't understand about that corner of the world, but I'm glad to learn a bit more. I find it's helped me pay better attention to news reports about what's happening to journalists in Somalia, or reports about p ...more
Jer Thorp
Aug 25, 2013 Jer Thorp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had very little understanding of the geography (physical, political, human) of Somalia, so this novel was very illuminating. Set in Somalia, it presents the human story around a Somali-American journalist visiting the country, and his family members who are there in search of a son who has left Minneapolis to fight with insurgents. 50 journalists have been killed in Somalia since 1992 (, and the question of why is at the center of this story.
Mark Nenadov
A complex, tragic account of life in modern Somalia. I loved it. Farah is a great writer and he's done a fantastic job of portraying his characters. The author bleeds both grief and love for his homeland. I've read this book as a part of my attempt to read a number of African novels this year. This is the first one, and I'm simply blown away! Even though this book weighs in at 400 pages, at no point did I find the narrative tedious or dull.
Jun 25, 2013 cati rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at the library and was interested in reading something about Somali, plus it has a great cover. The book was challenging with regard to the fact I know nothinng about this geography, the people, their history, etc. But, it was well written and I learned so much without feeling like a total idiot. I would like to read his other book and find other stories about this region. Especially in these times.
Sep 19, 2011 Norma rated it liked it
Crossbones is the last book in Nuruddin Farah's trilogy (Links, Knots--I read all three)about life in the strife torn civil war landscape of Somalia. This is some pretty bleak stuff with not even a suggestion of a happy ending. Very somber fiction (based on Somalia today)that represents the reality of life in the war ravaged countries of Africa. When you hear about the pirates of Somalia--that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Dec 11, 2013 Bat713 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I began reading and loving this book. I ended hating it. It has made me unsympathetic to a situation that formerly had my sympathy . The characters are confusing and it is hard to keep them straight. The country and people of Somalia are portrayed as horrible. I wish I had not read this book. I will say the book itself is very well written.

May 20, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made it about 175 pages or so, and it is perfectly readable, but the sympathetic characters were kind of same-y and the villains were close to cardboard. Reminded of Snow by Orhan Pamuk, also of a few spy novels with plot devices that moved the story along a little too easily.
Mar 25, 2012 Ashley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I guess this book just wasn't really my thing. I wasn't into the whole essay feel of it, and it seemed to be very wise and whatnot but I kind of just like to read for leisure, not to study. It was recieved from a goodreads giveaway and yeah. I didn't finish it.
Annie Primera
Sep 11, 2013 Annie Primera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great novel, but the ending left me a bit unsatisfied, even if I kind of get the impression that was the point. Chilling and eye-opening, the narrative is simple and easy to follow, even if all the names are not.
Monica Wanjiru
Read this book because i wanted to earn more about Al-Shabaab, who've caused so much grief in East Africa. Eye-opening, gripping story, rings true.
Carolin Kopplin
Mar 16, 2015 Carolin Kopplin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Account of the terrible situation in Somalia - a country in chaos.
Not one of his best but still a good book
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Nuruddin Farah (Somali: Nuuradiin Faarax, Arabic: نور الدين فرح) is a prominent Somali novelist. He was awarded the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. ...more
More about Nuruddin Farah...

Other Books in the Series

Past Imperfect (3 books)
  • Knots
  • Links

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