Hardback
May 2, 2023
9780253065490
Italian
154
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
$65.00 USD, £51.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Paperback / softback
May 2, 2023
9780253065506
Italian
154
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
$30.00 USD, £23.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Commander of the River

If you think I'm about to confess that it's all my fault, think again. People get all kinds of ideas when they see me—about where I'm from, who my parents are, where I live, if I'm doing well in school. You know, a nice little pre-packaged picture. But let me tell you, you can't expect to understand someone's story at first sight—you've got to arm yourself with patience and listen. To realize, for one, that it's our choices that show what we're made of. Like when there are religious icons at the corners of intersections, right where paths split. Some people leave them flowers or candles. Even though I'd never think of doing something so strange, I know those little madonnas and saints hold a special meaning for many. They're there to remind travelers that they're always running the risk of making a wrong turn.


Well, that's not a mistake I ever want to make. I've spent too much time obsessing over my father, over why he decided to command an army instead of living with me and mama in this beautiful city. I thought that if even he, having left us, had failed, I too would make an irreversible mistake sooner or later. But war changes people, their relationships—no one comes out unharmed. Zia Rosa and mama formed an alliance and raised us on stories and songs. Fables aren't all that different from real life. It's the commander of the river's duty to protect the people of the village from the crocodiles and, to do so, he can only rely on his ability to distinguish good from evil. Will he succeed in this extremely difficult role?


After everything I've gotten into, I'll admit that, deep down, I knew all too well how everything had unfolded. It's one thing to sense the truth, another to actually say it out loud. My mother washed her hands of it and sent me there alone, as a scout. In my opinion, certain knots should be untied at home, and as I've told her many times—you need to steel yourself to face reality. But she's convinced she made the right decision, that you need to come out of your shell to make your bones.


The fact remains that I had to flunk a grade, dodge punishment, and even get hurt to find the courage. Now I'm ready. I want to narrate the events from beginning to end, and explain them fully. Only by putting one word after another will I be able to make sense of everything. Sissi will be happy. I owe it to her above all, she's my little sister.



From an early age, Yabar listened to Aunt Rosa's story of the commander of the river. Somali legend tells of how two wise men were entrusted with creating a river, because their country had none and had no drinking water. But when crocodiles found their way into the water, the people elected a commander of the river to control the beasts and allow access to the water. To know Good, you must live with necessary Evil. After his father abandoned him, Yabar sets out on a journey to discover what became of him. Sent from his home in Rome to his aunt's house in London, Yabar will discover a terrible family secret, which he may want to forget.

The Commander of the River is a timeless and compelling coming-of-age story set in contemporary Italy. The second novel by acclaimed Somali Italian writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, it explores themes of racism, trauma, adolescent angst, and the rebellious torments of the young.

About the Authors

Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, a poet, novelist, playwright, librettist, and oral performer, was born in Verona, Italy, of a Somali father and an Italian mother. Raised in Mogadishu, she fled at the outbreak of the civil war at the age of eighteen. Her publications include stories, poems, and three novels, including Little Mother and The Stations of the Moon. Ali Farah holds a PhD in African Studies from Naples's Università L'Orientale. She has received Lingua Madre and Vittorini Prizes and has participated in many residencies and writing programs around the world..

Hope Campbell Gustafson has an MFA in Literary Translation from University of Iowa and a BA from Wesleyan University. Her work can be found in various journals, Banthology: Stories from Unwanted Nations, and Islands—New Islands: A Vagabond Guide to Rome. From Minneapolis, now in Brooklyn, Campbell Gustafson is the Senior Program Associate for Civitella Ranieri.

Indiana University Press
Global African Voices

9780253065490 : commander-of-the-river-ali-farah-campbell-gustafson
Hardback
May 2, 2023
$65.00 USD
9780253065506 : commander-of-the-river-ali-farah-campbell-gustafson
Paperback / softback
May 2, 2023
$30.00 USD

Other Titles in FICTION / Literary

Waiting for Wovoka

Gerald Vizenor
Mar 2023 - Wesleyan University Press
$55.00 USD - Hardback
$16.95 USD - Paperback / softback

One Poor Scruple

Josephine Ward, introduction by Julia Meszaros, Bonnie Lander Johnson
Feb 2023 - The Catholic University of America Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Rejoice the Head of Paul McCartney

Adam Braver
Nov 2022 - University of New Orleans Press
$18.95 USD - Paperback / softback