Review: The Orchard of Lost Souls

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Review for “The Orchard of Lost Souls” by Nadifa Mohamed
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Man, this woman can write. I had never heard of Nadifa Mohamed until I wandered into the library one afternoon and casually picked up this book.

The setting of this book is one that I have to admit that I knew very little about, Somalia in the late 1980s. The country was pretty much under a Communist dictatorship until they were attacked by rebel forces with innocent civilians caught in the middle. All of these events foreshadow the widespread famine and the “Black Hawk Down” disaster that most Americans are familiar with, and I enjoyed the fact that even though the book was fiction, it was somewhat of a history lesson as well without being boring or coming off too preachy.

The book is told through Deqo, a young orphan, Kawsar, a well off woman who is treated brutally by the police, and Filsan, a female officer within the ranks of the Somalian armed forces. The book started off a bit slow and difficult to follow at first, but once the voices of three main characters became more distinct I could not put this book down. This book has a quick pace and the stories are fascinating, and Mohamed does an excellent job with making you actually feel like you’re right there in the middle of the village of Hargeisa with her. Of course I don’t want to give the book away, but it was certainly a worthy read for me.

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