Friday, July 30, 2021

The Last Nomad: Coming Of Age In The Somali Desert by Shugri Said Salh

(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book:

“I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. I am the last person in my direct line to have once lived like that.” These lines open Shugri Said Salh’s captivating and utterly original debut memoir, THE LAST NOMAD: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert (Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021; $26.95.) Chronicling Salh’s remarkable journey from her idyllic childhood with a nomadic grandmother in Somalia to her escape from her country’s brutal civil war to her unfamiliar new homes in Canada and then California, THE LAST NOMAD is an unforgettable story of hope, survival, and the shifting definitions of home.

Born in Somalia in 1974 as the fourth daughter in a society that saw daughters as a burden, Salh was sent to live with her beloved ayeeyo (grandmother) at the age of six to learn a once-common way of life. She left behind her parents, her father’s multiple wives, her many siblings, and her home in the city of Galkayo. Though the desert was a dangerous place threatened by drought and hunger and plagued by predators, she grew up courageous and free, learning how to herd camels, raise her own goats, and become a part of the community found through the courtship rituals, nightly stories, and cooking songs of her ancestors. She was even proud to face the rite of passage - a brutal female circumcision - that all “respectable” girls undergo in Somalia. 

After the death of her mother and the violent political turmoil that took over the country, Salh was wrenched from the nomadic life she loved. Living first in a refugee camp on the Kenyan border, and ultimately moving to North America, she became a different kind of nomad who was thrust into a new way of life – a life that required navigating everything from escalators to cold weather to marriage and parenthood. With engaging wit, a fierce feminism, and vivid writing that transports readers instantly, THE LAST NOMAD portrays a rich portrait of one woman’s indomitable spirit, and the many vastly different worlds she has encountered in one lifetime.

“There is a saying in my culture that loosely translates: death is inevitable, so make sure your words prevail,” Salh explains. “I realized that if I didn't write this story of mine, it would die with me. It is not only my story, but the story of my family, nomadic culture, my country, and what it is like to be a Somali woman. It is important for me to record my unique upbringing, so my children and their descendants know the strong women they come from. I hope my story ultimately inspires those who have faced adversity in their lives, and brings us all together as humans, regardless of our backgrounds, religion, nationality and gender.” Salh now lives in Sonoma County, California with her husband and three children, and works as an infusion nurse. 

my thoughts:

Wow.  What a book. The Last Nomad: Coming Of Age In The Somali Desert by Shugri Said Salh is AMAZING!! It is a superb piece of nonfiction that you will swallow up in one sitting. You won't be able to help yourself - you just won't be able to stop reading. This book is so damn good. I loved it. 

Salh writes about her ancestors, her childhood - growing up with her grandmother - learning the ways of the desert land and her people. She was fearless and embraced her culture. And then, politics intervened and she found herself at a refugee camp and eventually living in Canada.  Now, she found herself facing a new territory to embrace. A country that she needed to figure out how to live in - from the freezing weather to escalators to finding a partner. Salh shares it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  She writes with such abandon - you can't help but fall in deep with her words and her wit. This is one book you need to read. A definite must-read!

I would happily recommend The Last Nomad to fans of nonfiction and to anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book to bits!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!

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