Sardines A Novel

Nuruddin Farah

Graywolf Press




272 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy

Winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature

In this novel, a woman loses her job as editor of the national newspaper and then finds her efforts to instill her daughter with a sense of dignity and independence threatened by an oppressive government and the traditions of conservative Islam. Sardines, the second volume of Farah's Variations of the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy, brilliantly combines a social commentary on life under a dictatorship with a compassionate exploration of African feminist issues.


Praise for Sardines

"Farah's provocative trilogy is one of the most powerful novelistic explorations of dictatorship since Asturias' El Señor Presidente or Roa Bastos' I the Supreme . . . He is a major writer, one of Africa's best, and this splendid and very readable trilogy is the centerpiece of his considerable accomplishments."—Robert Coover

"Farah has a remarkable ability to see things from a woman's point of view and to express the relationship between mother and daughter, and between women friends."—The Listener (London)

"No novelist has written as profoundly about the African woman's struggle for equality as has Nuruddin Farah."—Charles R. Larson, World Literature Today

"Farah is one of the few African men who write wonderfully about women."—Doris Lessing, New Society

"'Good writing,' Farah has Medina say, 'is like a bomb. It explodes in the face of the reader.' Farah's effects are more slowly built, but cumulatively as striking."—The Observer (London)

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Nuruddin Farah

  • Nuruddin Farah was born in 1945 in Baidoa, in what is now the Republic of Somalia. His Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy consists of the novels Sweet and Sour Milk, Sardines, and Close Sesame. His other books include From a Crooked Rib, A Naked Needle, and Maps. In 1991, he received the Swedish Tucholsky Literary Award, given to literary exiles, and he was the recipient of the German DAAD fellowship in 1990.