Novel of the week: The Fortune Men
Nadifa Mohamed’s fictionalised retelling of the ‘grim, desperate’ story of Mahmood Mattan
Nadifa Mohamed’s third novel is a “fictionalised retelling of the story of Mahmood Mattan, one of the last men to be executed in Wales” – for a crime he didn’t commit, said Ashish Ghadiali in The Observer.
A Somali seaman who lived in Butetown, Cardiff, Mattan was hanged, in 1952, for “slitting the throat” of a female pawnbroker. It later emerged that police had suppressed evidence that exonerated him, while bribing the main prosecution witness. Using her considerable powers of imagination, Mohamed delivers us deep into Mattan’s “inner world”. The result is a moving work that “confirms her as a literary star of her generation”.
Mattan’s story is a “grim, desperate and horribly familiar one”, and the novel could easily have been written in a style to match, said Catherine Taylor in the FT. “That it isn’t is something of a triumph.”
As it moves “faultlessly from the cacophony of Butetown” to the claustrophobia of Cardiff’s prison, Mohamed’s narrative teems with “life, character and humour”. The Fortune Men is a “novel on fire, a restitution of justice in prose”.
Viking 384pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99THE WEEK
British Writers, World Citizens / Granta’s List of Young Literary Stars
Granta 123 / Best of Young British Novelists 4 / Edited by John Freeman – review
Book reviews roundup / MaddAddam, The Orchard of Lost Souls and Unexploded
The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed / Review
An interview with Nadifa Mohamed: “I don’t feel bound by Somalia…but the stories that have really motivated me are from there”
The Future of New Writing / Nadifa Mohamed
Analysis / The 2021 Booker shortlist tunes in to the worries of our age
Nadifa Mohamed is sole British writer to make Booker prize shortlist
Booker Prize 2021 shortlist unveiled as race for £50,000 prize hots up
The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed review / Injustice exposed
Novel of the week / The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed
Nadifa Mohamed / ‘Modern-day Britain is intense’
The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed review / A miscarriage of justice revisited
Nadifa Mohamed Q&A