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shell pebble

Bare bones of a tale

From A Crooked Rib - Nuruddin Farah

Farah takes the perspective of Ebla, a nineteen-year old Somali girl from a rural area who has no education, and whose reflections on freedom and society form the incendiary core of the book. Most of them arise from her experience at the hands of men to whom she is a chattel.

I found this to be a movingly simple and unaffected account from the perspective of a woman of few words and many insights. At times, she seems almost to become a cipher for the subjugation of women in Somalia; Farah does not cast her as a rebel heroine flying well-formed ideological flags. In fact, I now realise that my desire for her to rebel and demand her rights is an orientalist desire informed by stereotypes. Ebla's reality is not the reality my still colonised mind imagines for her. Yet Farah condemns the injustice she suffers effectively in the revelation of each prosaic detail in her life. He makes her as alive to us as we are to ourselves.