A young, but experienced, investigative journalist is captured by a group of bandits in Mogadishu, Somalia. The group is hoping to sell him to an Islamist group that control parts of Somalia, assuming a good ransom can be obtained from his employer or family.
The story of what got him there and what happens following the kidnapping is told from three points of view, those of the journalist, of a Somali teenager who guards him, and of the journalist’s mother.
What characterizes this book is the careful exploration of the web of human relationships that affect one’s sense of self. This is done for all three characters whose point of view is shared. Parents, siblings, extended family, partners and strangers are part of that web. In the complex relationships we develop with the people that surround us on a daily basis or that we meet in fleeting encounters, we get a sense of who we are by contrast with what we see of them and through our responses to them.
Some of these relationships are somewhat harmonious and continuous; others are “fractured” or contain fault lines that make them more fragile or more treacherous to negotiate. If we superimpose those “fractured” relationships to a “fractured” society such as Somalia, we get the rich material that this novel is made of.
Some aspects of this book, especially the description of the conditions of detention and of the contacts with the kidnappers was reminiscent of Amanda Lindhout’s memoir A House in the Sky with some important differences, given the single point of view of the memoir, the much longer detention and the torture Ms. Lindhout was subjected to.
Ní Chonghaile, Clár. Fractured. Legend Press, London, UK, 2016.