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Ahmed Ismail Yusuf. Image from Isthmus.

Earlier this week, we brought news of Reneilwe Malatji’s short story collection Love Interrupted, published by Catalyst Press. But it isn’t the only book that Catalyst Press has released in recent months: in June, they also published another short story collection, The Lion’s Binding Oath by Ahmed Ismail Yusuf.

Although the stories in The Lion’s Binding Oath are all set during or before the Somali Civil War, the book does more than show you war: it shows Somalis living full lives and loving in a time of great distress. In a review, Kirkus Reviews described Yusuf as “unquestionably talented, with a knack for stories focused on injustice and the anxiety of separation, be it over time or distance. […] Informative and direct storytelling from a corner of Africa that’s poorly understood in the West.”

Here is a description of The Lion’s Binding Oath on Amazon:

Religious and ethnic conflict may be the Horn of Africa’s most enduring recent legacy. But beneath its recent history of war and displacement lies human stories―families, clans, lovers, neighbors, and friends, all bound together through common cultural, religious, and historical ties.

The Lion’s Binding Oath, Ahmed Ismail Yusuf’s collection of short stories, introduces readers to the people of Somalia and their struggles: their humanity, faith, identity, friendship, and family bonds, as whispers of war grow louder around them. Through stories that span the years before and during Somali’s civil war, Yusuf weaves together Somalia’s political, social, and religious conflicts with portrayals of the country’s love of poetry, music, and soccer.

Yusuf’s collection is a powerful examination of love and resilience in a country torn apart by war, and written with deep compassion for the lives of its characters.

Ahmed Ismail Yusuf moved from Somalia to Minneapolis, U.S.A. in the late 80s. A non-English speaker at the time, he was a high-school dropout and was unsure of his age. He has since acquired two college degrees. In 2017, The History Theatre of St. Paul, Minnesota produced his short play, “A Crack in the Sky,” a memoir about how he found inspiration in Maya Angelou, whose I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was the first book he read, and Muhammad Ali during his early days in the U.S.A. Yusuf is the author of Somalis in Minnesota, a collection of stories published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Kenyan novelist Peter Kimani, author of Dance of the Jakaranda, has praised the collection:

Read the full interview HERE.

Congratulations to Ahmed Ismail Yusuf.

Buy The Lion’s Binding Oath HERE.

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OTOSIRIEZE is a writer, literary journalist, former academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. A judge for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award, he is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective which has published two volumes: WE ARE FLOWERS and THE INWARD GAZE. He is the curator of ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness: ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016) focuses on cities in Nigeria; WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017) focuses on professions in Nigeria. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the Gerald Kraak Award, both in 2016, and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts editing and writing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze.

One Response to “Ahmed Ismail Yusuf’s Story Collection, The Lion’s Binding Oath, Shows Somalis Living and Loving in a Time of War” Subscribe

  1. Aza 2018/08/20 at 01:55 #

    Quite good book.

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