In Gifts, the second volume in Farah's Blood in the Sun trilogy (see Maps, above), the same forces of war and unrest in Somalia shape the life of Duniya, a widowed nurse with three children trying to juggle a career and the emotional needs of a mature woman in the big city.
Nearing 35 years of age, she is pitied by her fellow nurses as a woman whose happiest years have already passed her by.
As Duniya recalls the dearth of choices in a rigid patriarchal society, she tells how her dying father asked his friend, Zubair, to marry his young daughter and how she was unable to refuse the old blind man, who would sire her twins before dying.
Over the course of Duniya's many adventures, her sanity is buttressed by her loyal friend, Bosaaso, a widower Duniya meets at the hospital.
The solidity and sincerity of their unlikely relationship counteracts the pain and confusion caused by the series of mishaps that befall the resilient Duniya, who represents, in her strength and courage, the kind of women who enable Somalia to survive its darkest moments.
In Gifts, as in Maps, Farah presents a remarkable portrait of unquenchable humanity in a beleaguered people. Reading both these distinctive, significant books will whet the reader's appetite for Farah's powerful early works.