The Fortune Men: Book summary and reviews of The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

The Fortune Men

A novel

by Nadifa Mohamed

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed X
The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed
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Book Summary

Based on a true event, an intimate and harrowing novel about the last man in Cardiff to be sentenced to death.

In Cardiff, Wales in 1952, Mahmood Mattan, a young Somali sailor, is accused of a crime he did not commit: the brutal killing of Violet Volacki, a shopkeeper from Tiger Bay. At first, Mahmood believes he can ignore the fingers pointing his way; he may be a gambler and a petty thief, but he is no murderer. He is a father of three, secure in his innocence and his belief in British justice. But as the trial draws closer, his prospect for freedom dwindles. Now, Mahmood must stage a terrifying fight for his life, with all the chips stacked against him: a shoddy investigation, an inhumane legal system, and, most evidently, pervasive and deep-rooted racism at every step. Under the shadow of the hangman's noose, Mahmood begins to realize that even the truth may not be enough to save him. A haunting tale of miscarried justice, this book offers a chilling look at the dark corners of our humanity.

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2021

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A novel on fire, a restitution of justice in prose...The Fortune Men can be read as a comment on 21st-century Britain and its continued troubled legacy of empire, but also as a beautifully judged fiction in its own right—teeming with life, character and humour, and, particularly, evocative of place." - Financial Times (UK)

"I read every sentence in total awe." - The Guardian (UK)

"Based on a real-life case from 1952, The Fortune Men is a masterpiece in storytelling. It tells of Mahmood Mattan, a Somali seaman who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Lily Volpert and was one of the last men to be executed in Wales. Mohamed's ability to examine the blistering racial injustices of the time is sobering and immense." - The Independent (UK)

"Nadifa Mohamed's The Fortune Men is a blue's song cut straight from the heart. It tells about the unjust death of an innocent Black man caught up in a corrupt system. Nadifa's masterful evocation of the full life of Mahmood Mattan, the last man executed in Cardiff for a crime he was exonerated for 40 years later, is brought alive with subtle artistry and heartbreaking humanity. In one man's life Mohamed captures the multitudes of homelands, dialects, hopes, and prayers of Somalis, Jews, Maltese and West Indians drawn in by the ships that filled Wales' Tiger Bay in the 1950's, all hoping for a future that eludes Mattan." - Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress

"The Fortune Men is that rare novel that breaks your heart and, in so doing, gives you life. Nadifa Mohamed is a revelation - she writes with the fierce compassionate lightning of a truth-teller, lays bare the ghastly colonial condition that afflicts so many of us, where truth cannot overcome injustice. If a novel can be an avenger then The Fortune Men is the one we've all been waiting for." - Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"A writer of great humanity and intelligence. Nadifa Mohamed deeply understands how lives are shaped both by the grand sweep of history and the intimate encounters of human beings." - Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire

This information about The Fortune Men shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Nadifa Mohamed Author Biography

Photo: © Liquid Images—Creative Portrait Photography for Publication

Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa in 1981. In 1986 her family temporarily relocated to London; this move became permanent with the eruption of the Somali Civil War. She was educated in London and went to Oxford to study history and politics. She finally returned to Hargeisa, now in the new Republic of Somaliland, in 2008. Her first novel, Black Mamba Boy, won the Betty Trask Prize, was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the PEN Open Book Award. In 2013 she was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists.

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