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Novels my way to respond in measured way: Nadifa Mohamed

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

says she is constantly enraged by conflicts and unrest across the globe and the only way she can calm herself and contribute anything meaningful is responding in a measured way through her novels.

"There has to be respect for human life that you don't let people die. That's the line you don't cross. And I feel that this line has been crossed," she rues.

"I am very aware of how much the present situation, present fears have impacted my ability to respond in any kind of measured way. And the only way I can respond in a measured way is through fiction and my novel," London-based Mohamed, who was in recently for the Literature Festival, told

"I am constantly enraged by the of conflicts, atrocities and unrest and the only way I can calm myself and contribute anything meaningful is through my novels written after adequate research," she says.

According to Mohammed, economic depressions like the Great Recession always bring out the most violent, most irrational responses politically.

"That's what we are seeing, we are seeing it in the West, we are seeing it in the Muslim world, we are seeing it in too many places. The underlying reasons have been there for long and probably they are recurring. The behind the conflicts we are seeing, the instability we are seeing may be due to the gratuity loss," she says.

Mohamed, a best young British novelist, is working on her third novel which is about miscarriage of justice and deals with a murder case from the 1950s.

"The book has been in my mind for about 10 years. I intended it to be a very short and tight novel but it is now almost 600 pages long. It is very, very historical. It has got real life characters," she says.

For her, what becomes a novel is something that gets under her skin. "It might be personal too. I have written a lot about my family or something that relates to a feeling I have had for a long period of time."

She thinks she has been getting deeper and deeper in trying to understand what people have been talking about constantly discrimination, justice, migration, self-identity.

"So I think the novel is still precious for that. There is no other way I know that you sit with someone, you sit with the story for days and days and really absorb it. I am not convinced that I have as much as of a transformative effect on the reader but it just grabs a more meaningful attention from them than anything else that I can think of," says Mohammed, who was born in the Somali city of in 1981 while was falling deeper into dictatorship.

In 1986, she moved to with her family in what she thought was a temporary move but a couple of years later it became permanent as war broke out in

Her father's stories were the basis of her debut novel "Black Mamba Boy".

Mohammeds next work "The Orchard of Lost Souls", set in Hargeisa, is the story of three women - nine-year-old Deqo, an orphan born and raised in the Saba'ad refugee camp; Kawsar, a well-off widow in her 50s whose late husband was the city's of police before the public offices were purged; and Filsan, an ambitious young soldier in her late 20s.

On migration of authors to other countries, she says, I have noticed that many writers, not surely they are refugees, but they have moved either a lot or one big time in their childhood. So there must be something to do with leaving one world behind and entering a new world at a very formative age that enables or switches on the writer's mind.

On the writing and publishing scene in Somaliland, she says, "I could still write and I could have published but the platform would be very different. The industry is Somaliland is in its very early stages. Selling is a problem there but it is also not so easy in the US and the UK either.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 22 2018. 13:30 IST