Somalinimo (till I dhimo) | Free Word

Curated by Amina Jama in partnership with Free Word and with support from The Reading Agency.


To mark Free Word’s Writing Our Way Home season exploring shelter, belonging and safety, our residents at The Reading Agency created a reading list with Somali-British writer Amina Jama featuring writers from the East African diaspora. This reading list is inspired by Amina Jama’s Somalinimo (till I dhimo) installation — an immersive recreation of a 1990s Somali living room, which pays homage to Black Britishness, migration and the creativity that arises from displacement.


Have a suggestion to add to our list? Drop us a line on Twitter or Instagram @freewordcentre.


A Grain of Wheat

by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

A novel that portrays several characters in a village whose intertwined lives are transformed by the 1952-1960 Emergency in Kenya.

Keeping Hope Alive

by Dr. Hawa Abdi

The truly inspiring and moving story of a female doctor in war torn Somalia who refuses to leave her country and her people.

My Name Is Why

by Lemn Sissay

A memoir with a message – about growing up in care and finding hope, determination and creativity – from British poet and national treasure Lemn Sissay.

East African Literature

by Egara Kabaji (Ed.)

A wide-ranging collection of essays by seasoned and younger literary critics based in universities across the eastern region of Africa.

Desert Flower

by Waris Dirie

Inspirational, dramatic and extraordinary – the autobiography of a Somalian nomad.

A Silence You Can Carry

by Hibaq Osman

A Silence You Can Carry stands as a searing debut collection filled with beautifully woven observations that are centered on love and loss, identity and womanhood.

The Kitchen-Dweller's Testimony

by Ladan Osman, Kwame Dawes

The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony is about love and longing, divorce, distilled desire, and all the ways we injure ourselves and one another.

The Consequences of Love

by Sulaiman Addonia

He spends his time writing to his mother in Africa and yearning to meet a woman – but in a country that separates men and women with walls and veils he feels trapped.


by Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf, Clare Pollard

Although Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf has lived in exile in the UK for 20 years, she is fast emerging as one of the most outstanding Somali poets.

Little Mother

by Cristina Ali Farah

An acclaimed novel about Somalis in exile. Translated by Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi and Victoria Offredi Poletto; with an introduction by Alessandra Di Maio.

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth

by Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire’s ability to give simple, beautiful eloquence to the veiled world is what elevates ‘teaching my mother how to give birth’.


by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

This is a spellbinding state of the nation novel about Kenya, showing how the violence of the past informs the violence and disorder of the present.

Travelling With Djinns

by Jamal Mahjoub

Yasin reflects on the tragic-comic ironies of his displaced life and the kind of mixed-up world his son will inhabit.

Season of Migration to the North

by Tayeb Salih

An obsession with the West leads a student to London and the beds of women with similar obsessions about the mysterious East.

Nervous Conditions

by Tsitsi Dangarembga

This novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women’s rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision.

Nairobi Heat

by Mukoma Wa Ngugi

It’s big news when African peace activist Joshua Hakizimana accepts a position at the University in Wisconsin. Then a young girl is found murdered on his doorstep.

Beneath the Lion's Gaze

by Maaza Mengiste

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze opens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1974, on the eve of a revolution. Emotionally gripping, poetic and indelibly tragic.

Black Mamba Boy

by Nadifa Mohamed

A stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world.


by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Paradise is Abdulrazak Gurnah’s fourth novel, a beautiful story of African life.


by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The astonishing and bestselling life story of the renowned campaigner for religious tolerance and women’s rights, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


Losing Touch

Digital Content

Part of How To Be Kind season

The Year That Was

Digital Content

Part of How To Be Kind season

Life isn’t a quiet river

Digital Content

Part of How To Be Kind season