Black Mamba Boy

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Black Mamba Boy
Author Nadifa Mohamed
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre historical novel, roman a clef
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 304 pp (1st hardcover edition)
ISBN 0-374-11419-6
ISBN 978-0-374-11419-0 (recent paperback edition)
OCLC 456171394

Black Mamba Boy is a 2009 novel by the Somali-British author Nadifa Mohamed.


Black Mamba Boy (2009) is a semi-autobiographical account of Nadifa's father's life in Yemen in the 1930s and 40s, during the colonial period.[1] It also recounts his trek through Sudan, Egypt, Palestine and the Mediterranean, before eventually settling in the United Kingdom.[2]

The "Black Mamba" reference in its title is an allusion to the black mamba snake. According to the author:

"When my grandmother was heavily pregnant with my father, she was following her family’s caravan and she got lost and separated from the others. She sat down to rest under an acacia tree and a black mamba snake crept upon her belly before slithering away, leaving her unharmed. She took this as a sign that the child she carried would always be protected, and that’s how the title of the book came about."[2]


The novel won the 2010 Betty Trask Award, and was short-listed for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award,[3] the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize,[4] and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.[5] The book was also long-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction.[6]


  1. ^ "Black Mamba Boy, By Nadifa Mohamed", reviewed by Arifa Akbar, The Independent, 15 January 2010
  2. ^ a b Somali Week Festival - Female Authors Showcase Their Work Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Guardian first book award shortlist revealed", The Guardian, 29 October 2010
  4. ^ "Somali author Nadifa Mohamed up for first book prize", BBC, 28 October 2010
  5. ^ "Shortlist announced for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2010". booktrust. Archived from the original on 27 November 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Black Mamba Boy, Orange Prize for Fiction

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