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Maps (Blood in the Sun #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  560 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
This first novel in Nuruddin Farah's Blood in the Sun trilogy tells the story of Askar, a man coming of age in the turmoil of modern Africa. With his father a victim of the bloody Ethiopian civil war and his mother dying the day of his birth, Askar is taken in and raised by a woman named Misra amid the scandal, gossip, and ritual of a small African village. As an adolescen
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 8th 1999 by Arcade Publishing (first published 1986)
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Jim Fonseca
A story from the Muslim world in the “Horn” of East Africa, a peninsula that juts out toward Saudi Arabia. It’s kind of blank spot on the map for many of us, but it consists of Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. The story is set in the 1970’s.

A young boy grows up in a world of women – his father has been killed in the endless territorial disputes of this area especially the on-going feud over Ogaden, a region disputed by Somalia and Ethiopia. His mother died at his birth, so he was adopte

حكاية طفل تسكنه التساؤلات والكلمات...الأسماء ورموزها...الأرض والسماء، القلم والكتاب، والخرائط...وتسكنه الأحلام التي احتلت مساحة كبيرة من حياته ومن الرواية...والتي تركت آثارها على نمو ذاته

والأكثر من ذلك أنها حكاية الصومال وإقليم أوغادين المتنازع عليه بين الصومال وأثيوبيا والحرب الدائرة بينهما عام 1977...وحكاية المآسي التي أصابت الصوماليين فيها، من مذابح وتهجير وقتل واغتصاب للنساء العفيفات

عسكر...قتل والده في تلك الحرب...وماتت أمه عند ولادته...وربته الأثيوبية "مصرا" صاحبة القدرات التنبئية، في قريت
Dec 07, 2007 Chrissie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, somalia
Don't give up on this book too soon. I feel the book completely turns around when Askar arrives in Mogadishu and one meets with Hilaal and Salaado. They are marvelous!

This is what I thought before this point: I wanted to like this book...... but I don't. I always check Kirkus Reviews because usually they do not praise a book or an author unless it is really good. In their review of Maps, shown on the Barnes and Noble site,they say it is "One of the best novels out of Africa in some time." I am
May 14, 2013 Eric rated it it was amazing
Fantastic coming-of age story. For a culture as mysterious as that of the Somali, this book gives an interesting insight into the people and the wars that they fought, both to liberate themselves and to get to know who they truly are.
While the switch in points of view was confusing, it became easier to follow with time. The worldview of Askar, the main character, keeps changing as he grows older, and as the people that surround him react to their worlds, they give him an insight into human natu
Sep 19, 2012 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 20th-century
Although this story jumps around in time from the very beginning, and sometimes steps out of time altogether in dream sequences, it also progresses forward steadily as the problem of the identity of Askar moves from mostly considerations of how the child Askar is defined by and against his adoptive mother Misra, to how those considerations become politicized as we come to understand that Misra is ethnically Ethiopian and Askar Somalian. But the initial definitions of child against mother, boy/ma ...more
Chris Blocker
Mar 21, 2016 Chris Blocker rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 21, 2012 Shanae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about identity, the colonization of Africans living within borders established by the colonizers, the fluidity of ethnicity and everything else you can imagine about Somalia and Egypt. Farah is an amazing writer who tells story with all types of reads like poetry. I am big on writers who use language to their advantage and Farah is definitely one of those types.
Oct 19, 2014 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2008 Jaspreet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About a week ago, I finished reading Maps by Nuruddin Farah . As with most things in my life, I fell behind on the process of writing the review. I told myself that it was okay to hold off on writing the review until I had some questions.

Before getting to the questions, I would like to get a (short) general review. The book was surprisingly engaging and powerful. From publisher’s weekly, here is a plot summary: Askar, orphaned as a child, is rescued from his dead mother's side and raised in a s
Nov 10, 2011 Martha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of the novel is not comfortable. A child (Askar) in living on the border of Somalia and Ethiopia in an area contested in the war tries to find his place in the world. He is Somali and his adoptive mother (Misra) is Ethiopian. Their relationship is too close for comfort. Askar's sense of self is all wrapped up in hers; in a sense, he is not weaned until he is sent away from the war-torn area to live with an uncle and aunt in Mogadishu. They are well-educated, well-off and apparentl ...more
Oct 23, 2007 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in Mogadishu and Greater Somalia, Maps is a startling and disarming novel that impugns the borders between countries, peoples, and people while challenging narrative conventions and interlacing prose with the rich tradition of Somali poetry. The most challenging aspect of the book is the usage of second, first, and third person on the part of the narrator. This is the key conflict of identity that persists through various themes and threads in the novel.

(In a time of widespread xenophobic bi
Juliet Wilson
Jun 13, 2009 Juliet Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This is a complex, beautifully written story of the relationship between a boy and his adopted mother and her relationship with her adopted country (his birth country - Somalia). It is told from three different viewpoints and the language is often quite impersonal so its not the most straightforward book in the world, but it is tremendously insightful into how people see themselves and their country. It's a book to read slowly and quietly to absorb all the layers of meaning.
Melissa Barbosa
Mar 24, 2014 Melissa Barbosa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can say that I loved it - but also hated it. I found some passages very difficult: some were too obscure for me, and other just took me out of the story to the realisation that I was reading a book (in other words, they did not sound plausible). But it is impressive, suffocating, and has so many layers that some times I felt really lost. In other words, it's a must read.
Sorin Hadârcă
Nov 09, 2016 Sorin Hadârcă rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
A masterpiece of sorts. To begin with, the highly poeticized narrative is confusing, but you'll get used to it. Next you'll be engulfed in a maelstrom of questions—all pertinent: Is there truth in maps? Why is there guilt if there is no crime? Why we are burdened by bodies rather than wondering spirits? And, at the end, who are we, really? I found it captivating and thought-provoking.
Sumaya Shoole
Jan 10, 2015 Sumaya Shoole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: قائمة-2015
الرواية باعثة على التشتيت في البداية وتبدأ الإثارة مع وصول عسكر لمقديشو.. الترجمة قضمت من المتعة قليلاً
أحببتها بشكل عام
Sep 22, 2016 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The rating system doesn't work for this book. It WAS amazing...and frustration and at times unnecessarily (IMHO) confusing. The voice changed from second person to third person to first person all through the book. So did chronology. The author is clearly brilliant and he is writing about a part of the world I know too little about. I am willing to trust that I am hearing about events and perspectives that I haven't researched and can't verify. The fact that he writes in English, his second lang ...more
Monalisa's 3-paragraph review of Maps by Nuruddin Farah

This is a coming of age story about a Somali boy (Askar) who is raised by a female Ethiopian servant (Misra) who is employed by his family. The story is set in the country of Somalia which is located in the "Horn of Africa." The political backdrop of the story is the 1970s Ogaden War between Ethiopia and the Western Somali Liberation Front. I knew little about this conflict before reading the book, but now I know that many ethnic Somalis liv
Grady Ormsby
Sep 04, 2012 Grady Ormsby rated it it was amazing
Maps by Nuruddin Farah is an extraordinary novel. It is the story of Askar, an orphan who struggles to find his personal identity as his homeland of Somalia struggles to find its national identity.
In the novel we follow Askar's life from a village in the Ogaden with its tribal taboos, superstitions and suffocating limitations to metropolitan Mogadiscio with its cosmopolitan variety of experiences, viewpoints and opportunities.
Like beliefs, values and ways of thinking, we assume that dream str
Jun 11, 2016 AJ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a book for my office African fiction book club.

I had quite a difficult time reading this book. It was written in a style that I did not particularly enjoy. It was very prosey, and lyrical, and with sort of a rambling sentence structure and narrative style that jumped around in time and place. Some people really enjoy that style of story telling, but it's not always for me and this book in particular didn't do it for me as far as writing style goes.

Another thing that bothered me (though
There are laudatory quotes from Salman Rushdie and Chinua Achebe on the back of this book, and the fact that they feel so able to praise Farah's work goes part of the way to explaining why they are Rushdie and Achebe and I am not. I had a fiendishly difficult time finding a way into Maps, which is written in alternating chapters of second/first/third person (but second and third person chapters both slip into an omniscient narrator/author place) in a way that is maybe a little too close to Askar ...more
Scott Cox
This story by Somalia author Nuruddin Farah is an excellent introduction to the heartaches and ensuing struggles currently devastating northeast Africa. This story is the first in Farah's “Blood in the Sun” trilogy. It takes place during the Somalia and Ethiopia conflict over the Ogaden region in 1977. The main characters are an adopted orphan (Askar) and his adoptive mother (Misra); the latter is of questionable national and ethnic background. These characters symbolize the angst of the region’ ...more
Jul 18, 2016 SLD rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Before you start this book, open it to a random page and read a few passages. Here's one:
"'...I hope, as dreamers do, that the dreamt dream will match the dreamt reality--that is the invented truth of one's imagination. My maps invent nothing. They copy a given reality, they map out roads a dreamer has walked, they identify a notional truth.'"

If this writing style appeals to you, you will enjoy the book. If you find this pretentious or abstruse, then you are unlikely to enjoy reading it and will
Mikko Saari
A story about a young man in Somalia, set in the time of Ogaden crisis. Themes include identity, both personal and ethnic, as the young man's parents have died, and he is raised by a woman who is an ethnic outsider in the Ethiopian town inhabited mostly by Somalis.

It is a well-written book, but also rather heavy and at times confusing. Too intellectual and poetic for me; I'd have preferred a clearer plot and less having to wonder and interpret what the different dream sequences mean – but I'm st
May 07, 2016 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Heard about this book on World Book Club of the BBC. Sorry that I listened to the podcast. The story of an orphaned Somali boy and his journey to adulthood. A lot of time shifting, trite similes, shallow dreamscapes, and a plot not worthy of more than a short story. Nothing deep in the character development, either. The tie-in to the political strife in Somalia and Ethiopia is worth noting but the book is too pseudo-cerebral to be informative. It was okay, at best, and I'm being generous. I admi ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Solange rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Confusing sums this book up in one word. Most times I had no idea who was speaking - Is it the narrator? Has he switched perspectives? Is he dreaming? Is this scene occurring right now or is it in the past? I can say that I understand and appreciate the themes that the author is trying to convey (Does formal recognition on a map make a state, create a historical narrative for a nation and its people) However, all I ended up thinking that this novel was a prime example of 'highbrow literary geniu ...more
Amanda Rose
Jan 03, 2011 Amanda Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the narrative reached redundancy in some places (I understand repetitive imagery as a technique, but its occurrence should take you deeper each time), I was grateful for Farrah's compelling and vivid story as an introduction to the tragic history of the Ethiopian nation. I take it as a generally good sign when, upon finishing a novel, I want to educate myself more on topics contained therein.
Mar 22, 2010 Cheryl marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
From an old list: by Nuruddin Farah
Gifts, the first novel in Nuruddin Farah's Blood in the Sun trilogy, which also includes Secrets and Maps, is the powerful tale of a Somali family and the struggles of its powerful matriarch to keep it whole. Here, Nuruddin Farah delves into the ways people -- families, communities, countries -- are bound together by what they are willing to give and what they choose to receive
Mohammad Z
This was my first time reading a novel where the author constantly changed view points. One chapter he'd be in 1st person, and then suddenly in the next chapter he would be in 3rd person. Second person was by far the most interesting point of view, especially bc most books are written in either 1st or 3rd. The book is overall very detailed, a lot of imagery....and at one point I found it to be wordy. Overall it was a decent book.
Jul 26, 2013 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My complaint is that the narrative was voiced by different people throughout the book. This made it hard to follow at times. However, I was intrigued by its focus on Africa, specifically Mogadiscio, and the main character, Askar. The title of the book comes from the different 'maps' that Askar uses, and creates, to help him make his way through life. Since 'Maps' is the first of a trilogy of books written by Farah. I want to read the others.
Apr 16, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More interesting than gripping. Insight into Somalia's current woes emerges through this very intimate family portrait. Farah's writing is complex, his themes elemental: loyalty, identity, place. In the end, after 250 pps of personal details, young Askar remains a mystery, intentional, but puzzling.
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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
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Other Books in the Series

Blood in the Sun (3 books)
  • Gifts
  • Secrets

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“how he wished he could hang “time” on a peg like a wet cloth, and how he wished it wouldn’t stop raining so the cloth would not dry;” 0 likes
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