Best fiction books of 2010
"How far is it from here to this Kano?" asks Jama, who spends most of "Black Mamba Boy" searching Africa for his father, who disappeared when Jama was young. "Three years walk," comes the reply. Like many moments within this novel, it's the kind of setback that would stop most of us in our tracks. But Jama persists, and Nadifa Mohamed's wonderful debut takes us through the continent in the 1930s, with Mussolini's forces wreaking whatever havoc has been left unwreaked by famine. It is a grim time, but this remains somehow a book full of life. Following Jama on his endless search, one gets the suspicion that the father he seeks is either imaginary, or has bequeathed his son this trip as the kind of ultimate fiery forge. If he can survive this, he can survive anything.