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Nadifa Mohamed FRSL (Somali: Nadiifa Maxamed, Arabic: نظيفة محمد‎) (born 1981 in Hargeisa, Somalia) is a Somali-British novelist. She featured on Granta magazine's list "Best of Young British Novelists" in 2013, and in 2014 on the Africa39 list of writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define future trends in African literature.[2] She has also written short stories, essays, memoirs and articles in outlets including The Guardian.

Nadifa Mohamed
نظيفة محمد
Nadifa Mohamed.jpg
Nadiifa Maxamed

1981 (age 37–38)
NationalityBritish, born Somali[1]
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
MovementRealism, historical fiction


Personal lifeEdit

Mohamed was born in 1981 in Hargeisa, Somaliland.[3] Her father was a sailor in the merchant navy and her mother was a local landlady.[4] In 1986, she moved with her family to London for what was intended to be a temporary stay. However, the civil war broke out shortly afterwards in Somalia, so they remained in the UK.[5]

Mohamed later attended the University of Oxford, where she studied history and politics. In 2008, she visited Hargeisa for the first time in over a decade.[5]

Mohamed presently resides in London and is working on her third novel.[5]

Literary careerEdit

Mohamed's first novel, Black Mamba Boy (2009), described in The Guardian as "a significant, affecting book of the dispossessed",[6] is a semi-biographical account of her father's life in Yemen in the 1930s and '40s, during the colonial period.[7][8] She has said that "the novel grew out of a desire to learn more about my roots, to elucidate Somali history for a wider audience and to tell a story that I found fascinating."[4] A "fictionalized biography", it won critical and popular acclaim in countries as far away as Korea.[9] The book won the 2010 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award,[10] the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize,[11] and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.[12] It was also long-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction.[13]

In 2013, Mohamed released her second novel, The Orchard of Lost Souls. Set in Somalia on the eve of the civil war,[14] it was published by Simon & Schuster.[15] Reviewing it in The Independent, Arifa Akbar said: "If Mohamed's first novel was about fathers and sons ... this one is essentially about mothers and daughters."[16] In 2014 The Orchard of Lost Souls won the Somerset Maugham Award and was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize.[17]

In December 2013, Mohamed was one of 36 writer and translator participants at the Doha International Book Fair's Literary Translation Summit in Qatar.[18]

She was chosen as one of Granta magazine's "Best of Young British Novelists" in 2013,[19] and in April 2014 was selected for the Hay Festival's Africa39 list of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define future trends in African literature.[20][21]

Her writing has also been published in such outlets as The Guardian[22] and Literary Hub.

In June 2018 Mohamed was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in its "40 Under 40" initiative.[23]




  • Black Mamba Boy (2009)
  • The Orchard of Lost Souls (2013)

Selected shorter writingsEdit


  1. ^ "Nadifa Mohamed - Literature". Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Spotlight: Nadifa Mohamed", Africa39.
  3. ^ Nadifa Mohamed, HarperCollins Author Profile
  4. ^ a b "WDN Interview with Nadifa Mohamed: The Author of Black Mamba Boy" Archived 1 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine, WardheerNews, 21 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Nadifa Mohamed". Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  6. ^ Catherine Taylor, "First novels from Simon Lelic, Nadifa Mohamed, Alan Monaghan and Ru Freeman", The Guardian, 2 January 2010.
  7. ^ Arifa Akbar, "Black Mamba Boy, By Nadifa Mohamed" (review), The Independent, 15 January 2010.
  8. ^ Hassan M. Abukar, "Black Mamba Boy: A Book Review" Archived 9 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine, WardheerNews, 30 October 2010.
  9. ^ "Nadifa Mohamed in conversation with Ellah Allfrey". Rift Valley Institute. 21 June 2013. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  10. ^ Benedicte Page, "Guardian first book award shortlist revealed", The Guardian, 29 October 2010.
  11. ^ "Somali author Nadifa Mohamed up for first book prize", BBC, 28 October 2010.
  12. ^ "Shortlist announced for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2010". BookTrust. Archived from the original on 27 November 2010.
  13. ^ "Orange Prize for Fiction announces 2010 longlist", The Independent, 17 March 2010.
  14. ^ Maya Jaggi, "The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed – review. The Betty Trask award winner takes on a complex history of Somalian civil unrest with a focus on women", The Guardian, 14 September 2013.
  15. ^ "The Orchard of Lost Souls". The Lady. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  16. ^ Arifa Akbar, "Book review: The Orchard of Lost Souls, By Nadifa Mohamed", The Independent, 16 August 2013.
  17. ^ "Dylan Thomas Prize: Swansea University reveals longlist", BBC News, South West Wales, 22 July 2014.
  18. ^ "Doha International Book Fair Opens". Marhaba. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4". Granta (123). 2013. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013.
  20. ^ Nadifa Mohamed page at Africa39.
  21. ^ Margaret Busby, "Africa39: how we chose the writers for Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014", The Guardian, 10 April 2014.
  22. ^ Nadifa Mohamed page at The Guardian.
  23. ^ Alison Flood (28 June 2018). "Royal Society of Literature admits 40 new fellows to address historical biases". the Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  24. ^ Richard Lea (27 August 2010). "Guardian first book award longlist ranges around the world". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  25. ^ Annalisa Quinn (15 April 2013). "Granta's 'Best of Young British Novelists' Shows A 'Disunited Kingdom'". Granta. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  26. ^ "Africa39" (PDF). Hay Festival. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  27. ^ Yusuf M. Hassan, "Somaliland: Author Nadifa Mohamed Wins the Somerset Maugham Awards 2014", Somaliland Sun, 2 July 2014.

External linksEdit