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A Man of Good Hope

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  560 ratings  ·  82 reviews
In January 1991, when civil war came to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, two-thirds of the city’s population fled. Among them was eight-year-old Asad Abdullahi. His mother murdered by a militia, his father somewhere in hiding, he was swept alone into the great wartime migration that scattered the Somali people throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the world.

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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Knopf (first published August 1st 2014)
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Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
...xenophobia is a product of citizenship, the claiming of a new birthright. Finally, we belong here, and that means you do not.

The first thing I want to say is that I loved the writing style of this memoir. The author is very clear about what was said by Asad, and what was interpreted by him, the writer. In this way I think we get more from the telling than if it was written by Asad himself, there is enough distance between the feeling and the writing to try and make sense of what is being told.
When Steinberg first meets Asad, the Somali man whose life Steinberg has chosen to help explain the extreme black-on-black violence South Africa experienced in 2008, Asad is living in Blikkiesdorp. Blikkiesdorp in English is called Tin Can Town because of its sixteen hundred identical one-room tin living structures laid out in sixteen identical square blocks. It was erected to house families evicted from homes they occupied illegally. Blikkiesdorp is thirty kilometers from Cape Town, separated b ...more
Stan Vlieg
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
My first goodreads review. I choose this one because i hope this book will get some more attention as i think it deserves it!

The story is about a resilient young man named Asad. He spend most of his live finding a place where he can settle down and be safe from harm. From Somalia to South Africa everywhere he goes he needs to find a way to survive. I felt inspired from his actions and his way of getting over things.

My trip to South Africa made me feel a bit like Asad must
Sonja Arlow
The first word that comes to mind when I think of Somalia is pirates. I was completely unaware of the huge amount of Somalis in SA and just how much they were the targets of the xenophobic attacks of 2008.

My feelings about illegal immigrants are in complete juxtaposition.

Yes they are non-tax paying and illegal which puts a strain on a country’s infrastructure, public services, job opportunities and is a headache for even the most bountiful first world country’s political and socio e
Pam Mooney
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book! Well researched with unbelievable insight and sensitivity for all the cultures involved in this story. The story is told through the eyes of the people involved while walking in their shoes. Some parts of the story do make your jaw drop and pull at your heart strings. After I read this book I felt like I had been on a journey of epic proportions and crossed the barriers of culture, language, war, and geography. I would rate this book a 10 out of five. I cannot say enough good ...more
how to make sense of the insensible that is war refugees 'illegal' immigration racism outsiders extreme poverty hope, that is what author steinberg does chronicling the epic life of somalian asad as he loses his family when very young and eventually makes it to south africa and tries to live in hope
i think maybe a unique bio in its breadth of emotion detail and sheer epic humanness
Kathe Coleman
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg
A Man of Good Hope is the story of a Somalian child who at the age of eight was left an orphan when his mother was murdered in front of him and his father was forced into hiding. I followed his migration from Ethiopia to Somalia, to Kenya, to South Africa and finally to the United States. In South Africa his dream for freedom and prosperity was short lived as he was met with more violence and xenophobia. He was placed in Blikkiesdorp, “described as cape Town
Ray Hartley
Sep 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jonny Steinberg is doing what he does best: Describing the South African condition with precise insight and a writer’s flair.
I can’t remember the question I asked him as we sat down to talk, but my notes contain his pithy answer: “There’s this in-between state of knowing and not knowing at the same time and so much of South African life is lived in that state.”
I was talking to him in the lounge of Rosebank’s Park Hyatt hotel, home of deal-makers, socially-networking functionaries, day-tripping
Walter Stevens
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not up for a review, but this is an astonishingly good book about the travails of a Somali youngster, "kicked like a stone in a road", all the way down the African continent. No feel good story, this has loss, I'll-feeling and foul play in at least equal measure to resilience, tenacity and will. It left me with no great impression of my countrymen, by with vast respect for the ties of kinship that support any diaspora. I heartily recommend it.
Gisela Hafezparast
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, easy to read story of an African immigrant. Very informative about some African culture and problems. Steinberg managed to both portrait the results of civil war on a country (in this case Somalia) but the effects it has on the continent. Asad, whose story it mainly is, is very sympathetically portrait, both his good and bad sides. Steinberg clearly shows where Asad and his family are victims of what is going on in their country and of the result of Somali or other African culture, bu ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Asad, a Somali immigrant in South Africa as told to a journalist and writer.
It was amazing to travel with him from the moment he has to leave Mogadishu, hope and fear along with him and get angry at the unfair turns his life sometimes took... I appreciated instances of his insight and morality- such as when he comments on the position of women in Somali society, when he is ashamed of his community's ostracisation of people from an 'unclean/rootless' clan.
Also revealing w
Keshav Bhatt
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to learn what life is like for those who are forgotten, lost & oppressed - this is a great read. It's the story of Asad, a refugee who lost his mother as a young boy (she was shot in front of him) and his journey to find a place and a home in the world. Along the way he is beaten, betrayed and pushed to the very margins of society on numerous occasions. But despite it all, he makes the best of it at every moment, and keeps working to make the best of the situation he is in. It's ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story of survival amongst terrible odds. The title is a good one--it is hard to believe that any human could stay hopeful with all that the author had to deal with--it could also be called "A Good Man of Hope."
Kristen Abell
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a first reads giveaway and initially I could not get into it. I forced myself to focus and to read just a little more and I became hooked. This story is so tragic and almost unbelievable to someone living outside of the world in which Asad lived. To imagine the loss and fear that he must have endured on a daily basis for the majority of his adolescence, it put my own life and my blessings into perspective while making me mourn for him and his lack of stability. I could not ima ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is not an easy book to read. Man's inhumanity to man is very hard to stomach. However, the mere fact that this man of good hope will receive royalties from this book is reason enough to buy and to read it. A must read!
Rachel Wexelbaum
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If St. Cloud, Minnesota ever does a "One City, One Book" program, it should be with this book. This book, which preserves the voice and experience of a young Somali refugee, will do a lot to shatter stereotypes and ignorance about our Somali neighbors.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant in every way. A poignant telling of an immigrant's story. I felt equally hopeful and hopeless about Africa. So well-written.
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is none so honest and sober like a Jonny Steinberg book. A Man of Good Hope did not disappoint, in fact it was a welcoming chance to see myself as part of a community once on the receiving end of the cruel Apartheid system and later complicit and a silent spectator to the senseless Xenophobic attacks by South Africans on African foreign nationals. I never felt more convinced - (albeit in an idealistic naive way) - that Africa should be a country and not a continent. The author's account of ...more
Important as I feel that it is to tell the refugee story, for the most part I am no longer able to read many accounts of refugees; the horror of their lives overwhelms me and I find myself burrowing into a hole and have no idea how to help. This book is different (thank you, Peggy). Certainly the horrors are there, but Asad manages to find the resilience to carry on. I think much of the credit for the readability of the book is that the author is part of the story. Steinberg is very aware of the ...more
AJ Payne
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars.

I liked this book on so many levels. First, I’m always a fan of this author, so I have a bias going in.

But this book really does a great job of using the life of one Somali man as a microcosm of the refugee experience for Somalis fleeing to every corner in Africa - being stateless and wandering the continent trying to make a living, and being hard scrabble enough to be successful even after starting over time after time.

Plus, in this particular case, the subjec
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This feels like the book version of The Wire. It's gripping, fascinating, well-done, sympathetic ... and makes you never, ever want to set foot in Baltimore. I mean South Africa.

This non-fiction book follows Asad as he flees violence in Somalia and gets separated from his family at a young age. He becomes part of the Somali diaspora and wanders the continent with no real purpose. That's not meant as a dig but rather to explain that the book is as much about his coming of age as it is
Michalah Francis
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you want to know about the “other side of the story” then this is the book for you. As a South African living in Cape Town and working in the CBD, I’m exposed to various people, cultures and accents on a daily basis. In a country with 11 official languages it’s still easy to spot a foreign national, either by their accent or clothes, I can point them out. I hear locals talking about how “they are taking our jobs” and “bringing in crime”, but do we really know what they have been through? Jonn ...more
Holly Law
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A hauntingly beautiful book that left me in tears, speechless and galvanised. I want everyone I know to read this book. If you have any interest in humans, I can't see how you would fail to be affected by the story of Asad.

I was incredibly moved by the life story of Asad himself, someone of a similar age to myself but whose life could not be more different. I was also impressed by the authors ability to humanise the 'plight of the refugee'. As the (disgusting) furore over the past few years reg
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was enthralled by this account of a young Somali man's life, as he drifted from Somalia to Kenya and then South Africa, after being orphaned at 5 and abandoned soon after. Through this narrative you get a glimpse of what it is like to be a refugee. Asad is not an extraordinary figure with some special talents or gifts, but he's both thoughtful and skilled at finding his way, and you see him somehow surviving the harrowing ordeals of his everyday life to become an adept young man. The author ha ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“A man of good hope” By Jonny Steinberg

The true story of a Somali man Asad who started a journey from Somalia running from a Civil War of 1991 on which he saw by himself his mother being killed in front of him. He went to Kenya then Ethiopia where he manage to save $1200 which he used to smuggle himself to South Africa. The dream was to find a green pasture which he was advised that South Africa is the one.

But what he found there was more violence, more killing xenophobia
Christina’s Word
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A challenging yet riveting read. It's a story that follows Asad from the age of eight when war and terror abandons him. From Mogadishu, Somalia to Ethiopia, Kenya, all the way down to South Africa. He has to find home - but his home is no more and his parents gone. This is the story of betrayal and loss, a story of fighting for survival and being a survivor at any cost. The lesson is to preserve one's humanity. Asad does, but others do not. That's the heartbreaking part. It's heartbreaking and i ...more
Brady Clark
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An incredible, gut-wrenching, hard to read but important story. You cannot fully appreciate the privileges of your life until you understand the hardships of others. Reading this story will give you a greater depth of compassion for people from war-torn countries and the challenges they have overcome to arrive where they are.

The writing was dense, I would read a page and it felt like 10. I would put it down for a week or two at a time. It was so weighty. But I'm glad I persevered to the end. Th
Kathy Gradidge
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I finished this book last night and I.must be honest it has left me quite despondent. heavy subject matter certainly (deals with war in Africa and displacement and xenophobic violence ). .. so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.
but I felt no hope after reading this book. it was a bleak picture of south Africa. I didn't like that.
interesting story and interesting way of writing (journalist interviews)... but in no way happy reading
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I am left with the feeling that the painful telling of this book had a profound impact on Jonny Steinberg, the journalist to whom Asad Abdullahi reveals his life's journey from Mogadishu to Cape Town. I think Steinberg must have a heavy heart from hearing and tracing Asad's narrative.
For me, I have a deeper understanding of the outsider, the African foreign national, living in South Africa after apartheid. I know someone from West Africa who ended up in rural South Africa and never found t
Tamara Niemi
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The chronicle of one man's haphazard life from Mogadishu to Kansas City. The story itself fascinating, especially in a portrait of the kind of decision fatigure that makes one wonder "What was he thinking?" in terms of certain decisions. While I couldn't stop reading, I can't say it's an enjoyable read, or that I was engaged by the style, I just wanted to know what happened to Asad.
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Hopeful and believing in the face of struggle. 1 4 Oct 22, 2014 07:59AM  

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“The way she taught me, although I grew up an orphan, I still feel that what she was I am today. I did not lose her despite her death. I am not sure that words can describe what I am trying to tell you. I mean that by the time I was seven, she had already made me.” 0 likes
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