Monday 1 February 2016

Fractured by Clar Ni Chonghaile

Journalist Peter Maguire has been kidnapped in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. He does not know where he is or what is going to happen to him. He is filled with fear and, as the days go by, this dread of the unknown is hot through with remorse for the mistakes of his past.
Peter's mother Nina comes to Somalia to wait for her son's release. His plight forces her to relive another trauma - the fatal shooting in Liberia for Shaun Ridge, a young photographer she once loved, and Peter's real father.
Abdi, a Somalian teenager working with Peter's captors, strikes up a tenuous friendship with the prisoner based on a shared feeling of captivity. He decides to help Peter escape. Together they set off into the barren vastness of a land filled with danger.
These three people must journey into one of the world's most dangerous places, the human mind, to answer the question: are we every truly free? 

Fractured by Clar Ni Chonghaile is published by Legend Press on 1 February 2016.

Anyone who watches and listens to the world news will be familiar with the name of Somalia's capital city Mogadishu. I knew where it was, I knew that it was a dangerous place, and I knew that reporters tell us about deaths and terrorism on what seems to be an almost daily basis. I admit that I did not know the history of this troubled place, I struggle to understand the reasoning behind the political unrest in this country on the other side of the world.

Clar Ni Chonghaile has spent time in Somalia, and it is clear from her concise and at times, quite brual prose that she knows a great deal about this place. There is an underlying feeling of dread and terror within this story that does not go away, but is evened out by the humanity of the characters that populate the novel.

Peter Maguire is held captive in a dark cell. He knows that he may die at any time, and his feelings of helplessness are uppermost in the narration. Peter's mother Nina has arrived in this war-torn country, hoping against hope that her son will be returned whilst all the time, dealing with the painful memories that his situation evokes in her.

Abdi, the young boy who is tasked with guarding Peter struggles with his feelings. He has witnessed the horror of this mindless war at first hand, losing family members and struggling to cope with what is expected of him, yet what really doesn't come naturally to him.

Clar Ni Chonghaile is a superb writer who brings another dimension to the things that we see reported on the news. She has an empathy that shines through, an understanding that can only be gained from first-hand knowledge and a way with words that transfix and educate her readers.

A really admirable debut novel that throbs with realism, with violence and with horror.

My thanks to the publisher Legend Press who sent my copy for review as part of their Legend 100 Club.

Clar grew up in County Galway in Ireland, the eldest of seven children. She left Ireland aged nineteen to work as a graduate trainee journalist at Reuters in London.
Clar has worked as a journalist for over twenty years and has lived in Madrid, Paris, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Kenya.
While in Nairobi, she freelanced for the Guardian and travelled to Somalia to cover the African Union's battle against Al-Shabaab and the plight of thousands of displaced people.
Clar returned to London  in summer 2014, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.
Fractured is her debut novel.

You can contact Clar on Twitter @clarnic 



  1. Interesting, isn't it to get a perspective on a country, that, as you say has been in the news... not many of us will have travelled there and experienced the country first hand. Great review. Thank you.

  2. Sounds wonderful. Hope a U.S. publisher picks it up.