Neustadt International Prize

1998 - Nuruddin Farah

Born: 24 November 1945, Baidoa, Somalia

Author's Quote : "I have tried my best to keep my country alive by writing about it."

Field: Essayist, Novelist

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By Nuruddin Farah

About Nuruddin Farah

Nuruddin Farah (born November 24, 1945) is a prominent Somali novelist. He was awarded the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Farah was born in 1945 in Baidoa, Somalia. His father was a merchant and his mother a poet. Farah was the fourth eldest boy in a large family. He hails from the Ogaden Darod clan.

As a child, Farah frequented schools in Somalia and adjacent Ethiopia, attending classes in Kallafo in the Ogaden. He studied English, Arabic and Amharic. In 1963, three years after Somalia's independence, Farah was forced to flee the Ogaden following serious border conflicts. From 1966 to 1970, he pursued a degree in philosophy, literature and sociology at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India.

Farah's sister, Basra Farah Hassan, was a diplomat. She was killed in a bombing in January 2014 while working with the United Nations in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Farah has two sons and a daughter. He currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Cape Town, South Africa.


Crossbones: A Novel - Nuruddin Farah

By Mark Nenadov

A complex, tragic account of life in modern Somalia. I loved it. Farah is a great writer and he's done a fantastic job of portraying his characters. The author bleeds both grief and love for his homeland. I've read this book as a part of my attempt to read a number of African novels this year. This is the first one, and I'm simply blown away! Even though this book weighs in at 400 pages, at no point did I find the narrative tedious or dull.

Crossbones: A Novel - Nuruddin Farah

By Geoff Crocker

This is a ravaging and yet beautiful book. Nuruddin Farah begins with a deep rich descriptive prose which is worth taking the time needed to fully appreciate. He then moves into faster narrative which sets out the human cry, the struggle to exist in social conflict where imams, warlords, invaders and the omnipotent USA vie for control, with indifference to any human ethic.

Farah also sets the pressing issue of Somalian sea piracy in context, arguing its root cause in the global exploitation of Somalia's fish stock, and claiming that the beneficiaries are not the pirates themselves, but financiers in the developed world.

For the ordinary person negotiating such social disruption, compromise is often unavoidable and outcomes terrible. But the human spirit, however thwarted, however distorted, dimmed and weakened, prevails. People can still care, can remain committed to each other, can show hospitality and generosity. Humanity can and does transcend its own social artefact.