|About the Book|
From the opening pages, when Jeebleh, a long-time exile, leaves his airplane upon arrival in Mogadiscio, Somalia, and witnesses the random shooting of another passenger and comprehends the danger inherent in all choices he makes, he is assailed by unbearable stress. Mogadiscio is a land in which almost no one can be trusted, where kidnappings and murders are simply part of the day. The opening chapter describes Jeeblehs journey from the airport to a hotel, and its intensity makes other novels purporting to describe similar border crossings into dangerous global hotspots, such as those found in books by John Le Carre, seem dull. Jeebleh quickly learns how to navigate Mogadiscios complex and lawless society, where someone who bullied him as a child has amassed power as a warlord, where his movements are constantly monitored, and where people hide their names and their past identities, making his encounters constantly puzzling and fraught with fear. Jeebleh determines two projects for himself: one is to find two kidnapped children and to reunite them with their parents, long-time friends of his. One child has Downs Syndrome, the other is attributed other-worldly powers- simply being in her presence is considered protective. The second goal is to find his mothers grave and to honor her memory. He is changed by the city and by the company he keeps, a small security force whose heavily armed presence begins to feel empowering and seductive. Still, Jeebleh notes small signs of normalcy within the chaos, such as men lining up at the barbers for shaves and haircuts. The value of friendship, as well as its limits, is well depicted here. This novel is a visit to a place most of us would not care to visit- to go there and survive is an accomplishment. We dont know the long-term impact of living through this hell on Jeebleh or his compatriots, but the character of Raasta, the divinely touched girl, is one form of hope.