by Nuruddin Farah
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In Nuruddin Farah's first novel, From a Crooked Rib, a young woman's rebellion against traditional Somali society subtly mirrors the modern nation's struggle for autonomy. That 1970 debut, written when Farah was a twenty-three-year-old philosophy student (and recently reissued by Penguin), exposed the brutalities of infibulation—a pre-Islamic custom—and forced marriage through the eyes of its nomadic heroine, Ebla, spurring recognition of its male author's uncompromising feminism.
Forceful women characters, and an anatomy of family relationships from the viewpoint of those who have the least power within them, have continued to mark the novels of Farah, who won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1998. In exile for twenty-two years under the 1969–91 dictatorship of General Mohamed Siad Barre and
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