n English in Africa - The Metaphysical Detective in Nuruddin Farah’s Sweet and Sour Milk and Links - research

Volume 46 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



In a large number of works about postcolonial civil wars, detectives, investigations, quests or investigative journeys, violent intrigues and discoveries about the past all figure prominently. In fact, novels about the discordant and irrational universe of civil wars often cast the figure of the detective as their central protagonist. The detective is a metaphor for order in a world gone awry in the chaos of war. Nuruddin Farah employs such a character in order to investigate, interrogate and narrate Somalia’s complex postcolonial history. In Sweet and Sour Milk (1979), Loyaan attempts to excavate the truth of his brother’s death, and in Links (2004), Jeebleh, a professor of literature living in New York, returns to his native Mogadishu in the middle of the ongoing internecine wars. This paper will offer a close reading of the figure of the metaphysical detective whose investigations serve to unearth existential truths and offer stronger historical frameworks for wars being depicted as senseless and chaotic.

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