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Sweet and Sour Milk

(Variations on the Theme of An African Dictatorship #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  160 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Winner of the 1980 English-Speaking Union Literary Award

The first novel in Farah's universally acclaimed Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy, Sweet and Sour Milk chronicles one man's search for the reasons behind his twin brother's violent death during the 1970s. The atmosphere of political tyranny and repression reduces our hero's quest to a passive
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by Graywolf Press (first published January 1st 1980)
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3.56  · 
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 ·  160 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, novels
Intense and captivating.

I am conflicted. The characters are so endearing and believable that the thought of them being "made up" is heartbreaking. Nevertheless, it is an excellent book.

Social roles: mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, uneducated, educated, religious, secular, conservative, liberal, rich, poor, tribal, national. They're all subtley woven together. This book is a work of art.
David Smith
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is your secret entrance into daily life in Somalia. Tea-drinking required.
Becki Iverson
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book as the first in our Around the World in 80 Books book club and I really enjoyed it. It's the first work by a Somali author that I've read and I hope to continue on with the rest of this book series. There is so much pain and passion included in this book and you can feel it throbbing through the pages. Loyaan's story is one of searching tragedy and definitely digs into you as you read. It's very hard to read this book without drawing multiple parallels, both with our current pol ...more
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, favorites
"Africa, for nearly a century, was governed with the iron hand of European colonial economic interests: these ran Africa as though it were a torture-chamber. Africa has known the iron rod, the whiplash, thumb-screwing and removing of testicles: Africa has been humiliated one way or another. I am not saying anything new if I add that whether British, French, Belgian, Spanish, Portugese or Italian, the colonial mafiadoms which, on behalf of the civilised world, administered the colonies barbarousl
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly written with a fascinating plot. Sweet and Sour Milk is the first novel in Farah's Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy. It chronicles the quest on the reasons behind the mysterious death of the main character's twin brother. However, this book shall not be read with the end goal in mind: who killed the brother? For it is not a crime novel, rather it is a poignant commentary of Somalia's social, religious and political realities in the 70s.

"Somalia is a prison.
Sorin Hadârcă
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent literature! I agree when Farah is compared to Garcia Marquez (I think the Autumn of the Patriarch is meant here) and Solzhenitsyn. However, when Solzhenitsyn provides account for and witnesses the events, Farah adds structure, draws laws of the phenomena and searches for solutions. I think it's a great piece of dissident literature and I am ready for the next books in the trilogy and beyond it.
Dec 30, 2007 rated it liked it
A little too repetitious and self-conscious to be completely engaging, but still a fascinating read. It is dated, dealing as it does with Soviet influence across Africa, and yet sadly still quite timely in recounting the overwhelming damage done by a self-aggrandizing African dictator to ordinary people who love their country. More importantly, its exploration of the bonds between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, lovers and tribesmen is beautiful, heartbreaking, and timeless. Not an eas ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it
An interesting book, but the writing style wasn't my cup of tea. I don't like poetry, and it seemed overly poetic to me. I should have read the back - where the author is compared to Solzhenitsyn and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I'm not crazy about their books either.
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sweet and souer milk covers the dictatorship and resistance in Somalia.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
when the whole world embraces a shared lie, you start to doubt yourself
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Zeinab
Shelves: rainbow-fiction
Another great experience with the poetic, one-of-a-kind writing of Nuruddin Farah.
Ben Vigeant
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So good! very interesting and intriguing. I'm going straight to Amazon to buy the rest of the trilogy.
May 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
fantastic political novel
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Mar 13, 2017
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Jan 08, 2013
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Feb 27, 2017
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Aug 27, 2019
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Nuruddin Farah (Somali: Nuuradiin Faarax, Arabic: نور الدين فرح) is a prominent Somali novelist. Farah has garnered acclaim as one of the greatest contemporary writers in the world, his prose having earned him accolades including the Premio Cavour in Italy, the Kurt Tucholsky Prize in Sweden, the Lettre Ulysses Award in Berlin, and in 1998, the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literatu ...more

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Variations on the Theme of An African Dictatorship (3 books)
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