Black Mamba Boy

“Black Mamba Boy” by Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia)


Readers enjoyed this story describing it as somewhat similar to a tale where the hero is faced with many difficulties on his journey, but who also meets lots of kind people along the way. They warmed to the protagonist from the start and enjoyed following him as he grows from a young boy in search of his father into a man. Readers agreed that the father’s absence was a big presence in the book. They liked the different atmospheres the author manages to create and how she paints vivid scenes of the surroundings and environment in the countries that Jama travels through. They found some parts of the book very hard to read, notably the descriptions of the Italian soldiers’ brutality and the casual cruelty of the European colonisers. Some readers had difficulty keeping up with the constantly changing cast of characters, which they said resulted in them being unable to warm to any of them. On the other hand, other readers felt that the more important characters, such as Jama and his mother, were well developed. Overall, it averaged an 8.25 out of 10, the highest score of this season!


Aden, Yemen, 1935: a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world. Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of East Africa are preparing for battle… Read more

Nicola’s Book Club reading list 

Season 16 – “Journeys in Time” (Sep 2012 – Jan 2013)

“Malinche” by Laura Esquivel (Mexico)
“Pure” by Andrew Miller (U.K.)
“Black Mamba Boy” by Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia) *
“Map of the Invisible World” by Tash Aw (Malaysia)
“Departing at Dawn” by Gloria Lisé (Argentina)

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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