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Black Mamba Boy

by Nadifa Mohamed

Debut Books of the Month eBooks of the Month Modern and Contemporary Fiction Sharing Diverse Voices

LoveReading View on Black Mamba Boy

August 2010 Debut of the Month.

Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize 2010.

Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2010.

A compelling story about a young boy, Jama, growing up in Somalia and searching for his father who has left to try and find work in the Sudan. The book gives great insight in to the culture, class system and religion and spares no punches in the harsh reality that is Jama's life. Fascinating, gripping and ultimately uplifting this is a book that deserves the comparisons to Half  of a Yellow Sun and The Kite Runner.

Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.


Black Mamba Boy Synopsis

Longlisted for the Orange Prize and winner of the Betty Trask Award. For fans of Half of a Yellow Sun, a stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world.


Aden, Yemen, 1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world.


Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of East Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere.


And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camps, across the seas to Britain and freedom.


This story of one boy's long walk to freedom is also the story of how the Second World War affected Africa and its people; a story of displacement and family.

Black Mamba Boy Press Reviews

'Mixing startling lyricism and sheer brutality, Mohamed plunges into the chattering, viscous heat and 'hyena darkness'of Aden. This is a significant, affecting book' Guardian

'The most exciting, original new fiction is coming out of Africa. Nadifa Mohamed has produced a first novel of elegance and beauty!Watch out for this one during prize season; it's a stunning debut'
The Times

'Just as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun drew out the little documented dramas of the Biafran war, Mohamed describes an East Africa under Mussolini's rule!such an accomplished first novel'

'Loved Black Mamba Boy. Utterly compelling, an assured debut. An incredible insight into a slice of recent African history that is so rarely given light'
Alex Wheatle, author of East of Acre Lane and Brixton Rock

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780007315772
Publication date: 05/08/2010
Publisher: Harper an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780007315772
Publication date: 5th August 2010
Author: Nadifa Mohamed
Publisher: Harper an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Genres: Debuts of the Month, eBook Favourites, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Diverse Voices,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Nadifa Mohamed

Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa in 1981 while Somalia was falling deeper into dictatorship. In 1986 she moved to London with her family in what she thought was a temporary move but a couple of years later it became permanent as war broke out in Somalia. She was educated in London and went to Oxford to study History and Politics and she finally returned to Hargeisa, now in the new Republic of Somaliland, in 2008. She lives in London and is currently working on her second novel.

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