A wonderful read

Newlyn pier in the early dusk of winter - time to go home to curl up with a good book.

I previously left the wonderful topic of literature out of my little blog, but reading is truly one of my favourite things so I thought it was time to introduce it.

I finished A Shield of coolest air by Marion Molteno about two weeks ago and I am experiencing the telltale sign of having read a good book. I am still carrying around the characters in my head and wondering what is happening to them now. This is an exciting and not altogether frequent occurrence. So often books I read merge into each other or I forget the story the minute it has passed. So, my simple pleasure of the week has to be, discovering a good book.

The use of Somali poetry throughout the novel is wonderful. The story’s most dramatic and moving elements are highlighted by the use of painfully emotional poems from a range of Somali poets. The honesty and passion of the words is simply beautiful and consequently quite powerful. This poem is used to open the novel and is revisited during the book by the character Hassan.
Now you depart, and though your way may lead
Through airless forests thick with hagar trees,
Through places steeped in heat, stifling and dry,
Where breath comes hard, and no breeze can reach –
Yet may God place a shield of coolest air
Between your body and the assailant sun
And in random scorching flame of wind
That parches the painful throat, and sears the flesh,
May God, in His compassion, let you find
The great-boughed tree that will protect and shade.

From a Somali poem by Sayyid Mohamed Abdille Hassan

Molteno captures the injustice and disempowerment of asylum seekers entering the UK and upsettingly, although this book was first published in 1992, the British asylum system has remained largely unchanged. Her overview of the conflict in Somalia is also accurate and gives a totally different portrayal than that often portrayed by western media through books and films such as Black Hawk Down.

I can wholly recommend this novel, if not just for the wonderful Somali poetry that is scattered throughout.

Having now finished this wonderful book, I can continue on my mission to insulate my little home. I have almost finished my first draft excluder. This is unlikely to be a thing of great beauty, but I am hoping that it will keep us a little bit warmer.

Louisaholly xx


2 thoughts on “A wonderful read

  1. Rosie

    Oooh, I love your blog! It’s wonderful!
    And this book seems really intriguing, something I’d love to read – I’ll look out for it. Thanks for the great review!
    Rosie of BooksAndBakes

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