Nadifa Mohamed

Portrait Nadifa Mohamed
© Sean and Seng

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. She finally returned to Hargeisa, now in the new Republic of Somaliland, in 2008.

Her first novel, »Black Mamba Boy« (2010), was longlisted for the Orange Prize; shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the PEN Open Book Award; and won the Betty Trask Prize. Her second novel, »The Orchard of Lost Souls«, was published in 2013 and Mohamed was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists in the same year. »The Orchard of Lost Souls« won the Somerset Maugham Prize, the Prix de lʼAcadémie des Sciences dʼOutre-mer, and was shortlisted for a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Nadifa Mohamed’s latest novel, »The Fortune Men« (2021), tells the true story of Mahmood Mattan, a Somali living in Tiger Bay, the harbour area of Cardiff in the 1950s – a meeting place for Somali and West Indian sailors, Maltese businessmen, and Jewish families. Mahmood, who is actually well-liked, comes under suspicion when a shopkeeper is found murdered. His faith in justice is shaken as he faces racial prejudice and a brutal state apparatus. Pankaj Mishra has described the book as »A novel of tremendous power, compassion and subtlety, it feels unsettlingly timely.«

The author lives in London.