Compelling, transformative, and reflective—this memoir of "the last nomad" is a must-read for fans of memoir and nonfiction.
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
The Last Nomad is one of those books where it arrived to my house, I said "oh, let me get a feel for the writing...I'll just read the first page" and then 45 minutes later, I realized I was several chapters in and fully, completely invested in the story.
The best type of book, am I right?
Shugri Said Salh's compelling memoir details her experience as her family's "last" nomad. Now, as she immediately explains, Salh knows she is not the literal "last nomad" in the world. Not by a long shot. But for her familial line, generations of whom had existed similar lives as nomads in the Somali deserts, Salh IS their last nomad—her upbringing as a nomad transformed into her adulthood as a mother living in present-day suburban California.
What does it mean to straddle two lifestyles, worlds, and realities so dramatically?
From survival to excess, the hunt for water to the overabundance of brand options, the intimate oral histories of your elders to the immediacy of the now at the cost of the internal memory, The Last Nomad highlight's Salh's desire to record her story for posterity and for her children to keep the link to the past within her and her family. And, luckily, for us readers too. She quotes the African proverb, "when an elder dies, a library burns" and with this poignant remark as a touchstone, she walks us through her life experiences.
I don't want to get too specific with her stories, as it would merely be a pale regurgitation of Salh's own words, so take my word for it--The Last Nomad is one-of-a-kind. It'll linger with me for some time.
Many thanks to the publish for my copy in exchange for an honest review.