Novelist and political negotiator Nuruddin Farah presents Somalian conflict up close and personal

Talks include Assembly Series and Hurst, Feb. 13 & 14

For Nuruddin Farah, the personal is the political. His novels, short stories, essays, and plays deal with the themes of a lost country, a lost cultural identity, and the burden of keeping a country alive in minds and hearts. After decades writing about the political struggles, civil war and the diaspora, Farah is using his passion, wisdom, and talent for language to help negotiate a peaceful arrangement among fighting factions in his native Somalia.

As part of a U.S. speaking tour, Farah will be on the Washington University campus Feb. 13 and 14 to speak on “Political Islam and Clan in Present-day Somalia” for the Assembly Series, and to present a reading/discussion of his works for the Department of English in Arts & Sciences. Both events are free and open to the public.

In addition, there will be an informal discussion with Farah at 2 p.m. in the Anheuser-Busch School of Law, Room 309.

The English Dept. presentation will be held at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 13 in the Hurst Lounge, located in Duncker Hall; the Assembly Series talk will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 14, in Graham Chapel, both on the Danforth Campus. In addition, his appearance at Washington University is part of the community-wide literacy project called The Big Read, which invites individuals to join in reading Ray Bradbury’s classic, “Fahrenheit 451” and discussing its themes of book censorship. To view the events being planned for The Big Read, visit the Web site at

Farah is very familiar with the harm done by book censorship. His debut novel, “From a Crooked Rib,” was published in 1970 but it was his second novel, “A Naked Needle,” that angered the Somalian government, ordered his works banned and sentenced him to death. He left his homeland in 1974 and continued to write and to teach throughout Europe, America, India and Africa.

With more than a dozen works of fiction to his credit, most of them created in English (not his native language), he has gained worldwide acclaim and has been consistently short-listed for major global literary prizes. In 1998 he won the Neustadt Prize for Literature.

He is well known for his trilogies: “Blood in the Sun;” and “Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship.” He is working on his third, as yet untitled trilogy and has published two of those stories: “Links” in 2004, and “Knots” in 2006. Among his best known works are “Secrets” and “Sweet and Sour Milk.”

For more information on the Assembly Series, call 314-935-4620 or visit the Web site at