It takes great maturity to see the hairline fissures of culture and sexuality within an individual and a society with the prowess that makes Nurrudin Farah a great inspiration.
Bella, a beautiful Somali-Italian photographer who had become much more comforatable behind the camera than in front of it, recieves word of her brother’s murder by Somali political extremists and drops her life in Rome to charge to Nairobi to assume the sisterly call to care for her niece and nephew. If dealing with her own dilema between freedom and responsibility wasn’t difficult enough, the resurgence of the children’s mother creates a new course to navigate around, reckoning with her own tastes and those of others in a prickly garden of things unsaid and the secrets that define us.
Once again, Farah has brought poetry to yet another of his stories of how human maturity unfolds with the resonant simplicity of soulful narrative. Much like “Gifts”, he has once again led me to suspect he often understands women better than they do.
But he certainly understands the tension between disparate cultures, whereas some focus on individual desires and, others, collective ones — together with the advantages and disadvantages of both.
“Bella thinks of the Somali wisdom that holds that what your parents don’t teach, you will be compelled to learn the hard way from an unfeeling society.”