Nuruddin Farah was born in Baidoa, the Italian-administered region of Southern Somalia, in 1945. His mother was a traditional storyteller, his father a merchant who later worked as an interpreter for the British governor. As a child he attended the Koran school as well as the British colonial school. Through his familyís escape to Ogaden, he grew up in a multi-lingual environment: Farah speaks Somali, Amharic, English, Italian and Arabic. He studied philosophy, literature and sociology at Punjab University in Punjab, India, and later theatre in London.
Farahís first novel, From a Crooked Rib (1970) earned him the reputation of a "male feminist". In 1974 the publication of his novel Tallow Waa Telee Ma in a government magazine was discontinued after being censored. He was awarded a grant from the UNESCO, left Somalia and worked for two years in a London theatre. After being sentenced to death in absentia by Siad Barreís regime in the late 1970s, Farah decided to remain abroad. He did not return to his home country for 22 years and lived in England, Italy, Sweden, Germany and the US. In 1996 Farah returned to Somalia for the first time.
Nuruddin Farahís literary purpose is "to keep my country alive by writing about it." He is the author of several books and dramas. In addition, he works as a political commentator. His novel trilogies, Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship (1980-1983) and Blood in the Sun (1986-1999), are the core of his work.
His novel, Maps, studies the pain of cultural uncertainty in postcolonial reality and Somaliaís violent recent history. Recurrent themes in his writing are womenís rights, the relationship between industrialized and developing countries and the pre-Islamic understanding of religion in Somalia. Farahís writing is inspired by the oratur, a mixture of orally transmitted knowledge such as proverbs, allegories and legends, theatre and music. His new novel, Links was pub-lished in South Africa in June of 2003 and will be released in the USA in the coming year.
He was awarded the Premio Cavour in Italy, the Kurt Tucholsky Prize in Sweden, the prize for the best novel in Zimbabwe and in 1998 the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. In the same year the French edition of Gifts won the St. Malo Literature Festivalís prize.
Nuruddin Farahís books have been translated into 17 languages. He is father of two sons and a daughter and lives in Cape Town.
"The first source is traveling as discovery, as exploration, as exertion: the journey as a search for truth, not as relaxation. My travels mean paying attention, having patience to look into things, wanting to know, to see, to understand and to accumulate the entirety of knowledge. Such traveling is devotion and hard work."Ryszard Kapuscinski (ceremonial speaker 2003)