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'Hiding in Plain Sight' - confusing book by Nuruddin Farah


I read 'Hiding in Plain Sight', a novel by Nuruddin Farah, who is of Somali origin.

This wasn't an easy book.

For one, the book mixes up rather big issues, like terrorism, homosexuality in Africa, with Somali lifestyle, traditional versus modern. It is as if the writer wants to say everything about all the stereotypes connected to the above. Most of the story takes place in Nairobi.

Fine.

However, there are certain points which are totally confusing:

In the novel, Farah situates Hotel 680 opposite the Israeli Embassy (that's Fairview Hotel on Bishop Road in real life). Hotel 680 is on Muindi Mbingu Road.

Secondly, he then lets the teenagers in the story crave McDonalds burgers, and the head character takes them to the drive-in. There's been talk about McDonalds entering Kenya, but it is not confirmed, is it?

He also lets Ugandans eat 'mattock' every day ('mashed plaintain stew with peanut stew). Mattock is hand tool, used for digging. What he means, I assume, is 'matoke'...?!

And when he refers to the violence during the elections in 2007/8 in Kenya, he claims 1,5 million were killed. However, tragic this was, the number of dead were about 1300.

The worst parts are that the writer goes on and on about the most boring, mundane things. He constantly elaborates points about Somali culture or Nairobi to the reader, in stead of letting them unfold as part of the story. And then the writer repeats points.

I am so puzzled. How does a writer get away with so obvious mistakes?

#nuruddinfarah #africa #nairobi #somalia #literature

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