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  • Published: 30 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241562994
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $37.00

The Fortune Men

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2021

A murder, a miscarriage of justice, and a man too innocent for his times . . .

Mahmood Mattan is a fixture in Cardiff's Tiger Bay, 1952, which bustles with Somali and West Indian sailors, Maltese businessmen and Jewish families. He is a father, chancer, petty criminal. He is a smooth-talker with rakish charm and an eye for a good game. He is many things, but he is not a murderer.

So when a shopkeeper is brutally killed and all eyes fall on him, Mahmood isn't too worried. Since his Welsh wife Laura kicked him out for racking up debts he has wandered the streets more often, and there are witnesses who allegedly saw him enter the shop that night. But Mahmood has escaped worse scrapes, and he is innocent in this country where justice is served. Love lends him immunity too: the fierce love of Laura, who forgives his gambling in a heartbeat, and his children. It is only in the run-up to the trial, as the prospect of returning home dwindles, that it will dawn on Mahmood that he is in a fight for his life - against conspiracy, prejudice and cruelty - and that the truth may not be enough to save him.

  • Published: 30 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241562994
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $37.00

Praise for The Fortune Men

Mixing startling lyricism and sheer brutality, this is a significant, affecting book

Guardian, on Black Mamba Boy

A first novel of elegance and beauty... a stunning debut

The Times, on Black Mamba Boy

With the unadorned language of a wise, clear-eyed observer, Nadifa Mohamed has spun an unforgettable tale

Taiye Selasi, on The Orchard of Lost Souls

Just as Half of a Yellow Sun drew out the little documented dramas of the Biafran war, Mohamed describes an East Africa under Mussolini's rule . . . such an accomplished first novel

Independent, on Black Mamba Boy

A moving and captivating tale of survival and hope in a war-torn country, and confirms Mohamed's stature as one of Britain's best young novelists

Stylist on The Orchard of Lost Souls

A haunting and intimate portrait of the lives of women in war-torn Somalia

New York Journal of Books, on The Orchard of Lost Souls

Chilling and utterly compelling, The Fortune Men shines an essential light on a much-neglected period of our national life

Sathnam Sanghera, author of Empireland

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

The Fortune Men describes how innocence is forced to justify itself before gross injustice. A novel of tremendous power, compassion and subtlety, it feels unsettlingly timely

Pankaj Mishra

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

The Fortune Men is a novel on fire, a restitution of justice in prose


It's unbearably wrenching . . . Mohamed makes the outrage at the book's heart blazingly unignorable by inhabiting Mattan's point of view, a bold endeavour pulled off to powerful effect. Passages from the barbaric climax are still echoing in my head, even as I type

Daily Mail

The Fortune Men confirms Mohamed as a literary star of her generation. When Mohamed's prose - simple and full of soul - illuminated him, Mahmood emerges as a beacon of humour, hope and endurance


In her determined, nuanced and compassionate exposure of injustice, Mohamed gives the terrible story of Mattan's life and death meaning and dignity


Based on real events, Mohamed's novel is panoramic in its scope and rich in period atmosphere, vividly tracing the desperate livers of the victim and the accused

Mail on Sunday

A moving work

The Week, Novel of the Week

Evocative and enlightening

New Statesman

Mohamed is . . . intent on expanding her world, listing its teeming varieties and presenting a wealth of character and language


Nadifa Mohamed's richly evocative novel paints a vivid picture of life in this notorious neighbourhood as she visits a forgotten miscarriage of justice


[Mohamed] creates an intriguing snapshot of an era and a complex main character you can't help but root for

The Times

A searing and moving look at institutional racism and the helplessness you can feel in the face of prejudice


Heaving with life . . . The Fortune Men excavates the forgotten reaches of British colonial history . . . The purposeful detail is an implicit corrective to all the times when the lives of people like Mattan have not been considered at all


Grippingly-paced and full of complex, richly-drawn characters, the novel combines pointed social observation with a deeply empathetic sensibility. The Fortune Men demonstrates what historical fiction can achieve at its best

Maya Jasanoff, Chair of the Booker Prize 2021

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