Crossbones by Nuruddin FarahRead about another book on the list.
Set in Somalia around the 2006 US-backed Ethiopian invasion, the final volume in Farah's Past Imperfect trilogy can be read as a standalone novel. This absorbing story puts a human face to the tragedy of a failed state.
Three members of a Somali-American family return to find their homeland imploding under an Islamist regime in control of the capital, Mogadishu, as war nears and piracy proliferates off the coast of breakaway Puntland. Foreign correspondent Malik has come to write about political conflict and piracy; his father-in-law, Jeebleh, is re-establishing contact with old friends who he hopes will protect Malik and ease his path; and Malik's elder brother, Ahl, is searching for a stepson thought to have joined the Islamist militia on advice from an imam in his Minnesota hometown.
Farah skilfully evokes the paranoia and desperation that stalks the fragmented country, where trust is in short supply and good people find themselves unable to steer it away from self-destruction.
This is an impassioned insider's portrayal of present-day Somalia, and of lives blighted by relentless violence and civil war.
Somalia's most famous novelist went into exile in the 1970s, during the rule of the dictator Siad Barre. He now lives in the US and South Africa, but has vowed "to keep my country alive by writing about it".