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Sweet and Sour Milk
Graywolf Press

Sweet and Sour Milk

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Sweet and Sour Milk
Author(s): Nuruddin Farah

Winner of the 1980 English-Speaking Union Literary Award

The first novel in Farah's universally acclaimed Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy, Sweet and Sour Milk chronicles one man's search for the reasons behind his twin brother's violent death during the 1970s. The atmosphere of political tyranny and repression reduces our hero's quest to a passive and fatalistic level; his search for reasons and answers ultimately becomes a search for meaning. The often detective-story-like narrative of this novel thus moves on a primarily interior plane as "Farah takes us deep into territory he has charted and mapped and made uniquely his own" (Chinua Achebe).


Sweet and Sour Milk is the elegantly crafted tale of a man's investigation of his revolutionary twin's mysterious death . . . [This novel is] compelling in its mystery.” —Publishers Weekly

“Farah is in control of his enormous talents as a novelist, writing in the best tradition of Solzhenitsyn and García Márquez . . . With Sweet and Sour Milk, he becomes one of his continent's major novelists.” —World Literature Today

“First published in Britain in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this trilogy by the Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah is a chilling exploration of corruption and terror . . . The style of the novels that make up Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship is feverishly lyrical; Mr. Farah has given us a powerful political statement that moves constantly toward song.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Farah's provocative trilogy is one of the most powerful novelistic explorations of dictatorship since Asturias' El Señor Presidente or Roa Bastos' I the Supreme . . . He is a major writer, one of Africa's best, and this splendid and very readable trilogy is the centerpiece of his considerable accomplishments.” —Robert Coover

“Farah constructs intricate moral and physical problems for his characters. He's an expert in poetic description and his landscapes are just as hallucinogenic and believable as the Third World of younger novelists like Jessica Hagedorn: without uttering a word, a starving, naked little girl in Sweet and Sour Milk walks up to a trattoria table and drains a glass of fruit juice in front of two startled bourgeois diners . . . Oddly enough, the family emerges in these pages as the most menacing instrument of state control. Loyaan's father collaborates with the General's regime by making his son into a state hero. Farah replays such manipulations in the household by unmasking the father's own abusive tyranny; his regularly beaten wives, meanwhile, stifle any deviation from the status quo with motherly love.” —The Voice Literary Supplement

“Farah is one of the real interpreters of experience on our troubled continent . . . His insight goes deep, beyond events, into the sorrows and joys, the frustrations and achievements of our lives. His prose finds the poetry that is there. This trilogy represents the wide scope and beautiful intimacy of his work.” —Nadine Gordimer

ISBN:  9781555971595