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The Orchard of Lost Souls: A Novel por…
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The Orchard of Lost Souls: A Novel (edição 2014)

por Nadifa Mohamed (Autor)

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1648131,927 (3.98)11
"The Orchard of Lost Souls takes place in Hargeisa in 1987, and charts the descent of Somalia into civil war through the entwined lives of three women"--
Título:The Orchard of Lost Souls: A Novel
Autores:Nadifa Mohamed (Autor)
Informação:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2014), 352 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Etiquetas:to-read, africa, fiction

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The Orchard of Lost Souls por Nadifa Mohamed

Africa (513)
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1987. Somalia. Revolution is imminent. Through the eyes of three women, we see Somalia fall.

Filsan is proud to be a soldier and eager to prove her worth to the men around her. But it’s not easy.

Kawsar is widowed, childless, and infirm. After being injured by soldiers, she can’t flee the city along with her friends. So she remains and waits for death.

All young refugee Deqo wants is a family. But will she get it? And how?

The individual stories come together at several points in the novel as the characters encounter one another in different contexts. Predictably, their lives come together at the end. But the ending isn’t predictable.

The characters are well-developed. As the story unfolds, each one changes and grows. I particularly liked 9-year-old Deqo. She’s a survivor and a fighter but a dreamer, too. She keeps searching for a safe place to hide: a brothel, a barrel in a ditch, an abandoned house that isn’t deserted. It’s hard not to smile (or tear up) when this old-before-her-time girl behaves like a child: playing “dress up” with abandoned clothes and preening before the mirror, or talking to the people on T.V., or asking for an old woman to braid her unkempt hair.

The book should be heartbreaking. It is. There are depictions of war, sexual violence, hatred, bigotry, you name it, and any nasty aspect of humanity is on display. That’s how war is.

But the book is also luminous, filled with small acts of kindness and compassion, and even when it broke my heart, it also filled it with a sense of hope. This isn’t a book just about war and its effect on the innocent. It’s a book about relationships and strength. The ending is one of the most moving and hope-filled that I have read.

Like Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country and Earnest J. Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying, Mohamed’s book stayed with me long after I closed the cover. 12 months and 60 books later, I still remember it. That doesn’t happen often.

This is literary fiction but it’s not the navel-gazing, plotless type of literary fiction. It’s both beautifully written and highly readable.

Highly recommended.
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( )
  MeredithRankin | Jun 7, 2019 |
Civil war in Somalia.
I haven't read much about Somalia, so this was quite an eye-opener regarding the civil war which began in 1988 and in some form, still rages. The author was born in Hargeisa, where the novel is set, and where some of the fighting originated. She left with her family before hostilities began and now lives in London. I was lucky enough to hear her speak at a literary festival and was impressed by her presentation, which led me to read this book.

The three main characters are women: Deqo, only nine years old and who has never known anything other than life in a refugee camp, Filsan, a young soldier, determined to prove her worth to her dominant father and Kawsar, an older woman who is injured and bedridden. Each of the women is affected differently by the build-up to war, but all three have lost friends to the fighting.

This is a pretty intense novel, somewhat along the lines of Khaled Hosseini, but there is one scene, relating to blood donation, that will remain with me for a long time. Sometimes I just cannot believe the depths to which people will stoop.

I enjoyed Ms Mohamed's earlier book, Black Mamba Boy, but I thought this latest book was better written and more convincing. I am looking forward to whatever she writes next. ( )
  DubaiReader | May 8, 2019 |
Another African country read, another tale of post-colonial anarchy and dictatorship. Tanks rolling down your neighborhood street? As an American, that is hard to even imagine. But I read these books because I need to imagine those tanks in order to form an understanding of the world outside our borders. If more of us had a broader worldview, maybe we would insist on a more moral foreign policy that just might bring some justice to the world and just might make it hard for these dictators to hold their power. And maybe prevent us from slipping into a dictatorship that just might send tanks down your street. Even as a dictator takes the country down the drain, it is always the common people that suffer most; and this is a tale of those people.
This is a tale of three generations of women. Kawsar is an old woman living out the end of her life alone in the bitterness of broken hopes that sprang from the promise of Somalia’s independence and then experienced the violence the government committed against its own people. Her view of the country’s independent history can be summed up by this passage: “It was the star that caused all the grief: that five-pointed star on the flag, with each point signifying a part of the Somali motherland, had led the country into war with Kenya and then Ethiopia, had fed a ruinous desire to reclaim territory that was long gone. The last defeat changed everything. After seventy-nine the guns that were turned outward reversed position and became trained on Somalis instead, the fury of humiliated men blowing back over the Haud desert.”
Filsan is a young woman in the Somali government’s army trying to make a mark in a world that gives a little lip service to modern women’s roles in the country but whose reality is still based in the sexism of tribalism, fundamentalism, and traditionalism. Raised in a broken home and trying to please a father who wished she had been a son, she is driven to succeed in a man’s world.
And, finally, Deqo is an orphan girl from the refugee camps who does the best she can do as a street urchin trying to stay out of the way of the army, police, predatory men, and other dangers of the street like prostitution and starvation. She is obviously intelligent enough to become street smart despite her lack of education. That “education” was simple: “Deqo has long been aware of how the soft flesh of her body is a liability; the first word she remembers learning is ‘shame’. The only education she received from the women in the camp concerned how to keep this shame at bay: don’t sit with your legs open, don’t touch your privates, don’t play with boys. The avoidance of shame seems to be at the heart of everything in a girl’s life.” One “plus” to Deqo not having a family is that she doesn’t have anyone to make her go through female circumcision nor is she really socialized to “want” to go through it. This practice is only lightly touched on in the book but profoundly effects at least one of the character’s life.
These three women weave in and out of each other’s orbits as the novel reaches its climax and Hargeisa becomes a battleground between the government and the rebel groups.
The author, Mohamed, is a Somali who was out of the country in 1986 when the civil war started in earnest. She was five. It wasn’t until 20 years later that she revisited her birthplace Hargeisa again. She writes here as an ex-pat but manages to capture the experience of women living through the Somali Civil War. This was a great first glimpse into the tragedy of recent Somali history as well as their culture.
1 vote jveezer | Jul 15, 2018 |
nadifa mohamed's writing is incredible! while the whole story is evocative, and her characters are so strong, i was particularly impressed with mohamed's writing about traumatic physical injury and pain during a specific section of the widow kawsar's story. the endured traumas in this novel - physical and mental - also extend through each of the characters, to the horrors experienced in somalia during the time of this story (the start of the civil war in 1988). the way the brain processes trauma and pain is hugely complicated, and mohamed captures it all poignantly, heartbreakingly. i did find the ending a little abrupt, but it is a minor quibble. i had become strongly invested in deqo, kawsar, and filsan, so i was not quite ready for the end. ( )
  JooniperD | Feb 11, 2018 |
"Religion, tradition, civilization has been swept away",, 5 August 2016

This review is from: The Orchard of Lost Souls (Kindle Edition)
Set in war-torn Somalia, in 1988, this novel follows the lives of three very different women, as the revolution escalates about them in Hargeisa. I knew nothing about the politics of this country, but the situation is brought vividly to life: a totally corrupt president. As a staged festival takes place:
"The Guddi (Neighbourhood Watch) come last, waving branches and carrying imges of Lenin, Kim Il-Sung and Mao, the communists who once provided inspiration to the dictatorship but whose pictures have faded, carted out just once a year like church relics. The regime now seeks out friends of any description, be they Arab, American or Albanian." But as the opposing NFM tries to take on the dictatorship, the brutality escalates...

We follow middle-class widow Kawsar, grieving for her only daughter. When she sees a child being attacked, she wades in to save her, and finds herself in jail and beaten to the extent she can no longer walk...
The child in question, orphan Dequo, is on her own in a hostile and dangerous world...
The most interesting and well-written of the three, if certainly the least sympathetic is Filsan, a female soldier striving to make it in a man's world. As the novel progresses we learn of her tough background and something of why she has become the person she has...

It all ties up neatly and my first thought was to doubt that such a conclusion could be possible - wouldn't hatred and anger for the past preclude it? And yet, I am thinking this in a neat, well-ordered world - in the middle of war and all the attendant horrors, things are doubtless very different. ( )
  starbox | Aug 5, 2016 |
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