‘Maana-Faay has an enduring quality that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. It achieves what Max'd Afrax, the author, sets out to do with a plot that is irresistibly well-constructed. I have loved re-reading it and believe that this English translation will make its author many new friends.’
Nuruddin Farah, world acclaimed novelist
Maana-faay was the first and most popular modern novel written in the Somali language. It distinguished itself in its use of highly developed literary techniques such as retrospection, interior dialogue, and powerfully evocative descriptions of the range of physical spaces through which the story moves. Moreover, Afrax’s masterful use of dialogue in the spoken tongue, with all the nuances of region, urban quarter, age, and gender, remains unequalled even today. Afrax’s unique and pioneering prose fiction truly captured the spirit of Mogadishu and Somali urban life of the time. Immediately and impressively popular when it appeared, Maana-faay has remained iconic for this moment in Somali urban history and a mile-stone in the development of the Somali language and Somali-language literature. While no translation can do full justice to it, Ahmed Ismail Yusuf’s valiant endeavour deserves our admiration and gratitude.
Professor Lidwien Kapteijns, Wellesley College
‘Maana–faay presents a realistic picture of urban life in Somalia as it was a few years before the civil war. Afrax uses skillful artistry, not used before in Somali fiction writing, as well as sympathetic insight, to tell this story of an innocent young woman‘s sufferings in a corrupt and ruthless environment. He has a poet‘s perception of the physical scenes and psychological feelings through which she moves.
Even before the publication of Maana–faay, Afrax had been well–known for his fiction, essays and theatre criticism, but when Maana-faay was serialised in the Mogadishu daily, Xiddigta Oktoober, he became firmly established as the leading literary figure of Somalia, one, who, moreover, was an ardent defender of women against harassment and heartless exploitation .’
Professor B.W.Andrzejewski of London University, a leading authority in Somali language and literary studies. (in SOAS Literary Review)
‘Maana-faay is the first novel in the Somali language that is worth the name….In it; Afrax shows craftsmanship, care and extraordinary intelligence in synthesizing material from various irreconcilable sources. With it the Somali novel assumes its character and takes its historical position in the increasing number of novels written in different national languages. Afrax is not only a creative writer, but he is also a brilliant critic whose erudition could be seen through, among others, his latest book on the Somali theatre, the first of its kind. Going through the pages of this pioneering book, one is struck by the level of originality which marks the text’
Professor Ali Jimale Ahmed, Queens College, New York (in his PhD Dissertation)
‘So moving! This story reminds me of the Hamar–weyne in which I grew up. The characters of the story are like people I knew as a boy. The serialised episodes must have taken place hundreds of times under my nose. I think Maana- faay should be translated into English for the benefit of vigilance’ s readers and that it should be filmed by our film Agency. It has all the potential for a successful movie – highly artistic with great humor.”
Shariif Mohamed Amiin, (in vigilance, an English weekly)
Maxamed Daahir Afrax / Mohamed Dahir Afrah, PhD in African Studies from SOAS University of London, journalist, researcher, fiction writer and literary scholar who authored numerous articles, academic studies, chapters in scholarly books, novels, short stories, plays and scholarly books in Somali, English and Arabic; founder-president of the Somali-speaking Writers Centre of International Pen, a world association of writers; founder and Chief Editor of Hal-abuur, international Journal of Somali Literature and Culture; former minister and MP in the first transitional Government of Somalia. Currently he serves as President of the Intergovernmental Academy of Somali Language and Chairman of the Independent Commission for the Constitutional Review and Implementation in Somalia.
His most popular novels in Somali include Maana-faay, Guur-ku-sheeg (Pseudo-marriage) Galti-macruuf (The Libertine). He has also authored a historical novel in Arabic, Nida Al-Horiyah (Call of Freedom) and a highly popular play entitled Durbaan Been ah (Deceptive Drum) staged at Somali National Theatre in 1979.