Winner of the David St John Thomas Award for Fiction
This moving and inspiring novel, set among Somali refugees in London, received rave reviews on 1st publication and won the David Thomas prize for fiction.
Rachel arrives in London from South Africa to make a new home for herself and her three young children while her news-photographer husband jets from one international trouble spot to another. In the school playground she meets another mother, more recently arrived from Somalia and still looking as if she doesn’t know where she has landed.
As Rachel gets drawn into the complexities of Haleemo’s life story and those of other Somali refugees, she takes on far more than she would once have felt ready to; and unexpected things happen in her own personal life.
‘A beautiful piece of fiction, uncovering hidden realities. Its significance extends beyond its setting in Britain to anywhere where cruelty and injustice prevail.’ Nawal el Saadawi, Egyptian writer
(1st published 1992)
ISBN 9 780955 437342
Price £9.95, distributed by Central Books
Reviews of A shield of coolest air
This is one of those books I didn’t want to end. It affirms the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity and honours the power of love. It is moving and beautiful. And if that sounds corny, I don’t care.
Independent on Sunday
So successfully has Molteno breathed life into her characters that we get a real sense of their vulnerability, their fury, their sadness and their astonishing resilience.
Beautifully drawn and instantly recognizable …Marion Molteno has the kind of talent that works almost invisibly. She writes with great simplicity about ordinary people, yet that ordinariness is universal.
Her writing has a poet’s sensitivity and grace. Poignant and deeply empathetic.
She writes with intense sympathy of the bewildering experiences confronting Somali refugees.
Cannot fail to elicit sympathy and respect.
What readers say about A shield of coolest air
Ward Morehouse, New York
A superb piece of fiction in its own right, whilst at the same time it carries a profoundly important and timely political message. The themes of the story are universal.
Emma Pearson, London
Stunningly beautiful and moving, depressing and uplifting at the same time, and also, exciting – a wonderful combination.
Elizabeth Nussbaum, London
I felt a different person after reading it. There are so many things that I could say about it, at different levels. About its structure –so beautifully crafted; about its sadness and humanity; its insight into a world that just doesn’t exist for most people here. There is a richness about it – ironical, given the condition of your characters, but I mean it – the reader is enriched.
Mark Littlewood, Kent
I was bowled over by the quality of your writing. There is a complete lack of false sentimentality in your writing. Many times I gasped out loud at your insight into something I had previously known but not consciously expressed. I remain uplifted and grateful.
Jonna Petersen, Copenhagen
I have felt that you spoke everything through my mouth, and I have never experienced a book doing that before. Thank you for what I have learnt, the style of writing, the pleasures of the story, and not least for the compassion.
Susanna Pressl, Oxford
I’ve just finished reading your book – I can’t remember when I last go through so many tissues. I thought it was very, very good on lots of different levels: the question of how to be active politically, the war, the family relationships, the sexual relationships, the feeling of belonging to a community, the poetry and the pervasive theme of exile. I was extremely moved and impressed by the way you write about life and death and so many other important themes.
Ben Rose, London
A fabulous piece of writing, compassionate, human, erotic and full of love.
Margaret Sahin, Oxfordshire
I became totally immersed in the characters and the struggles they face so that hearing the news concerning Somalia makes me feel as though I personally know those involved. The poetry was lovely, the characters sympathetic and very believable. It is a magnificently powerful book.
Tzeggai Yohannes, London
I am enormously impressed by your book – its resourcefulness, creativity and insight. To write a book as lively as this – with a powerful and detailed message – asks a lot of courage, mental strength, commitment – and above all the wisdom to understand and reflect the heartbeat of the disadvantaged.
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