Nuruddin Farah was born in 1945 in Baidoa in southern Somalia. His mother was a traditional storyteller, and his father worked as a retailer and interpreter to the British Governor. Farah learned five languages: Somali, Amharic, Arabic, Italian and English. After his home country achieved independence and, later, border conflicts arose, Farah left to study Philosophy, Sociology and Literature at the Punjab University in Chandigarh, India. He had an early short story published in Somali, and began writing in English during his time at university. He won international recognition for his first novel, »From a Crooked Rib« (1970), about a nomad girl who flees to escape an arranged marriage to an older man. Due to repression, Farah moved to London in 1974 and studied Theatre Studies there and in Essex. He was sentenced to death in absentia at the end of the 1970s. He lived in various European and African countries for 22 years, as well as in the USA, where he taught Literature as a guest professor.
Farah is among the most important authors of modern Africa. His writing style is inspired by the power of metaphors and symbols of nature, with which he is familiar from the oral traditions of Somalia, from myths, proverbs, nomadic traditions and Sufi mysticism. A frequent theme is the condition of women in post-colonial Somalia against a backdrop of the national loss of identity, which Farah presents as a consequence of colonisation and neo-colonialism. His second trilogy of novels, »Blood in the Sun« (1986/1993/1998) – which has, like the majority of his work, been translated into German – describes the search for social, personal, family and sexual identity under conditions of violence and dictatorship. His most recent works »Links« (2004) and »Knots« (2007) are the first two parts of a new trilogy about Somalia. In »Links« a native Somali who has lived in exile in New York for 20 years returns to his home country for the first time following the death of his mother, only to discover a city torn apart by civil war. In »Knots« a young woman leaves her Canadian exile for Mogadishu in order to retrieve family property from a warlord.
Farah’s novels, dramas and radio plays have been translated into twenty languages. They are classified as underground literature in Somalia. The author has been awarded many prizes from around the world. In 2010 he was a juror at the 60th International Film Festival in Berlin. Farah lives in Cape Town.