The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

I read very little ultra-contemporary fiction, but this was a gift. I started with some trepidation, but a personal connection to the Cardiff Jewish community (part of my extended family ended up in Wales in the 1880s) kept me going, and it proved rewarding. Mohamed’s reconstruction of the inner life of the protagonist, Mattan, on trial for murder in 1950s Cardiff, is quite good. She uses some particular stylistic devices (having to do with grammar)… some readers may find it distracting, and numerous times I had to resist the temptation to check whether she was being consistent in the usage (like in the movies when a villain sometimes has a “cockney” accent and sometimes doesn’t, you know that feeling?). in the end I decided to just trust the author an immerse myself in the novel, and I read the last 150 pages in one sitting (yes I am tired this morning). A difficult novel to read, for a variety of reasons, but definitely rewarding, and deservedly on many prize and “best of 2021” lists.

Here is a nice blog review that I don’t disagree with.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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