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Africa: Stories in the 55
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Surviving the outbreak of the Somali civil war; academic finds modern-day parallels to 19th century Muslim leader

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, we take a look at two award-winning writers - Somali author Nadifa Mohamed, and Leila Abulela, Sudanese novelist - who speak about the influences on their craft.

Life in Somalia becomes increasingly difficult before the start of the country's civil war. The lives of two women and a girl intertwine in the final days before chaos breaks out in The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed. Partially inspired by her own grandmother, Mohamed speaks to Stories in the 55 about her novel, current writing and reads an excerpt from her award-winning work:

LISTEN to the interview with Nadifa Mohamed and hear her read from her novel "The Orchard of Lost Souls"

Manoeuvering within British academia is something Natasha Wilson (née Hussein) struggles with while working on research about Imam Shamil, a 19th century Caucasian Muslim leader. But life becomes increasingly difficult when her favourite student is accused of jihadist tendencies. Showing Shamil's personal struggle with Russian imperialists in parallel to Khartoum-born Natasha's own identity crisis, novelist Leila Aboulela talks about her writing process in The Kindness of Enemies: a Novel. She also speaks about her own return to Khartoum and why her next novel is a Scottish-based fantasy:

LISTEN to Leila Aboulela talk about her book, "The Kindness of Enemies: a Novel"

Contrasting images of his native Nigeria in Nnamdi Ehirin's debut novel, The Prince of Monkeys

South African novelist Mphuthumi Ntabeni shines a light on the Xhosa narrative

Life and sensuality in a refugee camp in Suliaman Addonia's "Silence is My Mother Tongue"

Somali writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah speaks of trauma intertwined with beauty in her story "Jujube"

Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga explores post-war trauma in "This Mournable Body"

The perils for Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa personified in Sue Nyathi's new novel, The Gold-Diggers

Honoring those who lived through Zimbabwe's Gukurahundi in Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's novel, House of Stone

Kenyan writer Kiprop Kimutai's short story speaks about the privilege of wealth in a queer environment

Does trauma define the person? Aminatta Forna's latest novel, Happiness, explores love and loss

Musician examines his integrity in Nigerian magical realism novel Taduno's Song

The struggle in Ethiopia continues - there's no stopping half way, says political poet Hama Tuma

Tense, compelling Zimbabwean tales in Behind Enemy Lines short stories

Naivo's Beyond the Rice Fields crafts an epic historical tale set in the highlands of Madagascar

Karim Miské dazzles readers with award-winning crime novel "Arab Jazz"

Characters haunted by memories, prejudice in Nigeria novel "Crocodile Girl"

A glimpse into the lives of Lagosians in Nigerian Ayo Sogunro's short story collection

Love and infertility issues in "Stay with Me", a new novel by Ayòbámi Adébáyò

Young Congolese man trying to deal with life and school in JJ Bola's new novel; Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction

South Africa's WWI tragedy immortalised in new novel; Rwandan genocide as seen by Djiboutian writer