Past Meetup

Meet the Author: Nadifa Mohamed - The Orchard of the Lost Souls

This Meetup is past

20 people went


And now for something different:

Nadifa Mohamed is a Somali Author, who has studies in Oxford. Her second book the Orchard of the Lost Soul is about the civil war in Somalia. She has kindly agreed to come and meet us.

This meet-up will be a joint meet-up with the Afro-Caribbean book club.

The format of the session will be a Q&A with the Author followed by discussion on Somalia, its’ people, war and women.

About Nadifa ....

Nadifa’s first novel, Black Mamba Boy (2009) won the 2010 Betty Trask Award (, and was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award, the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize (, and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize ( The book was also
long-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction ( Orchard of Lost Souls, published in 2013 is her second book.

It is 1988 and Hargeisa waits. Whispers of revolution travel on the dry winds but still the dictatorship remains secure. Soon, and through the eyes of three women, we will see Somalia fall. Nine-year-old Deqo has left the vast refugee camp she was born in, lured to the city by the promise of her first pair of shoes. Kawsar, a solitary widow, is trapped in her little house with its garden clawed from the desert, confined to her bed after
a savage beating in the local police station. Filsan, a young female soldier, has moved from Mogadishu to suppress the rebellion growing in the north.

And as the country is unravelled by a civil war that will shock the world, the fates of the three women are twisted irrevocably together. Intimate, frank, brimming with beauty and fierce love, The Orchard of Lost Souls is an unforgettable account of ordinary lives lived in extraordinary times.

“With the unadorned language of a wise, clear-eyed observer, Nadifa Mohamed has spun an unforgettable tale. The Orchard of Lost Souls recounts not just a state's descent into war, but war's most heartbreaking human toll: the death of dreams'

“Mixing startling lyricism and sheer brutality, Mohamed plunges into the chattering, viscous heat and "hyena darkness" of Aden…this is a significant, affecting book'

“Mohamed makes a political point about the sexes as she does about war and dictatorships.. the will to survive against overwhelming odds could have made for a grim or melodramatic read, but Mohamed takes her time, building slowly and almost gently a world full of contradictions -- there are moments of pleasure and joy”

“The writing is very, very good. No wonder this author is one of Granta’s “Best Young Novelist 2013″. The book is written in the present tense, which makes the story very direct and the war situations very acute. There isn’t a lot of actual fighting in the book. Most
of the book is about three very different women’s experiences during this difficult time. The book begins very strong, and drew me in straight away, with the three women briefly meeting in a stadium where there is a national celebration. The story is not a nice one. Bad things happen to the people of the small town where the three women live. But the way family, neighbours and strangers look out for each other is heart warming, and at the same time realistic. However much they like to help each other, in the end, they do anything to save their own skin, even if it’s to the detriment of another
person. But can you blame them?

Here is the guardian review: