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Nadifa Mohamed

Nadifa Mohamed
نادئفا محمد
Born Nadiifa Maxamed
1981 (age 33–34)
Hargeisa, Somalia
Nationality British
Ethnicity 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 1
  • Literary career 2
  • Awards 3
  • Works 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Personal life

Mohamed was born in 1981 in Hargeisa, Somalia.[1] Her father was a sailor in the merchant navy and her mother was a local landlady.[2] 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.[3]

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.[3]

Mohamed presently resides in London and is working on her third novel.[3]

Literary career

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.[4][5] 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."[2] A "fictionalized biography", it won critical and popular acclaim in countries as far away as Korea.[6] The book won the 2010 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award,[7] the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize,[8] and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.[9] It was also long-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction.[10]

In 2013, Mohamed released her second novel, The Orchard of Lost Souls.[11] Set in Somalia on the eve of the civil war, it was published by Simon & Schuster.[12] 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."[13]

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.[14] She was also selected to represent Somalia in the Hay Festival's 2014 Africa39 literary project.[15]



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


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

External links

  • "WDN Interview with Nadifa Mohamed: The Author of Black Mamba Boy", WardheerNews, 21 April 2011.
  • "Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed" on YouTube.
  • Nadifa Mohamed on Somali Writers, Asymptote.
  • Nadifa Mohamed interviewed by Stacey Knecht for
  • Magnus Taylor, "An interview with Nadifa Mohamed: 'I don’t feel bound by Somalia…but the stories that have really motivated me are from there'", African Arguments, 1 November 2013.
  • "Nadifa Mohamed: The Granta Podcast, Ep. 71", 22 May 2013.
  • Video: Nadifa MohamedGranta, 11 June 2013.
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