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Commander of the River
Translated by Hope Campbell Gustafson
Published by: Indiana University Press
From an early age, Yabar listened to Aunt Rosa's story of the commander of the river. Somali legend tells of how two wise men were entrusted with creating a river, because their country had none and had no drinking water. But when crocodiles found their way into the water, the people elected a commander of the river to control the beasts and allow access to the water. To know Good, you must live with necessary Evil. After his father abandoned him, Yabar sets out on a journey to discover what became of him. Sent from his home in Rome to his aunt's house in London, Yabar will discover a terrible family secret, which he may want to forget.
Commander of the River is a timeless and compelling coming-of-age story set in contemporary Italy. The second novel by acclaimed Somali Italian writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, it explores themes of racism, trauma, adolescent angst, and the rebellious torments of the young.
Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, a poet, novelist, playwright, librettist, and oral performer, was born in Verona, Italy, of a Somali father and an Italian mother. Raised in Mogadishu, she fled at the outbreak of the civil war at the age of eighteen. Her publications include stories, poems, and three novels, including Little Mother and The Stations of the Moon. Ali Farah holds a PhD in African Studies from Naples's Università L'Orientale. She has received Lingua Madre and Vittorini Prizes and has participated in many residencies and writing programs around the world..
Hope Campbell Gustafson has an MFA in Literary Translation from University of Iowa and a BA from Wesleyan University. Her work can be found in various journals, Banthology: Stories from Unwanted Nations, and Islands—New Islands: A Vagabond Guide to Rome. From Minneapolis, now in Brooklyn, Campbell Gustafson is the Senior Program Associate for Civitella Ranieri.
"Cristina Ali Farah understands how lives are shaped simultaneously by events of great magnitude and the everyday lives of ordinary people, and together, these stories nourish her poetic intelligence and profound humanity."~Abdourahman A. Waberi, winner of Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique noire, and author of In the United States of Africa
"Fearless and highly original, Cristina Ali Farah is a superb story teller and her use and understanding of symbolism, in all its facets, is sublime. She writes with brio and brings artistry to her writing whenever she puts pen to paper. Commander of the River is one of the best novels I have read in a long while."~Nuruddin Farah, Winner of Neustadt International Prize for Literature