Nadifa Mohamed

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Nadifa Mohamed
نظيفة محمد
Nadifa Mohamed.jpg
Born Nadiifa Maxamed
1981 (age 34–35)
Hargeisa, Somalia
Nationality British, born Somali[1]
Ethnicity Arab-Somali
Alma mater University of Oxford
Occupation novelist
Movement Realism, historical fiction

Nadifa Mohamed (Somali: Nadiifa Maxamed, Arabic: نظيفة محمد‎‎) (born 1981 in Hargeisa, Somalia) is a Somali-British novelist.

Personal life[edit]

Mohamed was born in 1981 in Hargeisa, Somalia.[2] Her father was a sailor in the merchant navy and her mother was a local landlady.[3] In 1986, she moved with her family to London for what was intended to be a temporary stay. However, the civil war broke out shortly afterwards in Somalia, so they remained in the UK.[4]

Mohamed later attended the University of Oxford, where she studied history and politics. In 2008, she visited Hargeisa for the first time in over a decade.[4]

Mohamed presently resides in London and is working on her third novel.[4]

Literary career[edit]

Mohamed's first novel, Black Mamba Boy (2009), is a semi-biographical account of her father's life in Yemen in the 1930s and '40s, during the colonial period.[5][6] She has said that "the novel grew out of a desire to learn more about my roots, to elucidate Somali history for a wider audience and to tell a story that I found fascinating."[3] A "fictionalized biography", it won critical and popular acclaim in countries as far away as Korea.[7] The book won the 2010 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award,[8] the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize,[9] and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.[10] It was also long-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction.[11]

In 2013, Mohamed released her second novel, The Orchard of Lost Souls.[12] Set in Somalia on the eve of the civil war, it was published by Simon & Schuster.[13] Reviewing it in The Independent, Arifa Akbar said: "If Mohamed's first novel was about fathers and sons ... this one is essentially about mothers and daughters."[14]

In December 2013, Mohamed was one of thirty-six writer and translator participants at the Doha International Book Fair's Literary Translation Summit in Qatar.[15] She was also selected to represent Somalia in the Hay Festival's 2014 Africa39 literary project.[16]



  • Black Mamba Boy (2009)
  • The Orchard of Lost Souls (2013)


  1. ^
  2. ^ Nadifa Mohamed, HarperCollins Author Profile
  3. ^ a b "WDN Interview with Nadifa Mohamed: The Author of Black Mamba Boy", WardheerNews, 21 April 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Nadifa Mohamed". Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Arifa Akbar, "Black Mamba Boy, By Nadifa Mohamed" (review), The Independent, 15 January 2010.
  6. ^ Hassan M. Abukar, "Black Mamba Boy: A Book Review", WardheerNews, 30 October 2010.
  7. ^ "Nadifa Mohamed in conversation with Ellah Allfrey". Rift Valley Institute. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Benedicte Page, "Guardian first book award shortlist revealed", The Guardian, 29 October 2010.
  9. ^ "Somali author Nadifa Mohamed up for first book prize", BBC, 28 October 2010.
  10. ^ "Shortlist announced for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2010". BookTrust. Archived from the original on 27 November 2010. 
  11. ^ "Black Mamba Boy", Orange Prize for Fiction.
  12. ^ Maya Jaggi, "The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed – review. The Betty Trask award winner takes on a complex history of Somalian civil unrest with a focus on women", The Guardian, 14 September 2013.
  13. ^ "The Orchard of Lost Souls". The Lady. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Arifa Akbar, "Book review: The Orchard of Lost Souls, By Nadifa Mohamed", The Independent, 16 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Doha International Book Fair Opens". Marhaba. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Africa39" (PDF). Hay Festival. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  17. ^ Richard Lea (27 August 2010). "Guardian first book award longlist ranges around the world". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  18. ^ Annalisa Quinn (15 April 2013). "Granta's 'Best of Young British Novelists' Shows A 'Disunited Kingdom'". Granta. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 

External links[edit]