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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 228

Secrets is Somalian writer Nuruddin Farah's 1998 novel about relationships in a closely knit group of Somalians from Mogadiscio (Mogadishu) prior to the Somalian Civil War.

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The principal character and protagonist is Kalaman, who is a young man during the story's early episodes and—later, when the story line jumps forward—owns his own computer store. He occupies a singular and metaphorical role at the center of the tale. Tormented by minor psychological neuroses, obsessions, and conflicts, he lacks confidence but nonetheless exhibits a determination to uncover what he suspects are secrets hidden in his family history. He later learns that he is the product of a gang rape.

Kalaman's mother, Damac, appears early in the story to juxtapose Kalaman's own lack of confidence. She displays a prescience about the coming social and political collapse. In one episode, gunmen attempt to carjack her vehicle; she refuses to hand-over the truck to them and instead accelerates, betting that the would-be thieves are afraid of speed.

Though older than Kalaman, Sholoongo is an on-again, off-again romantic interest of his. She travels to America where she becomes a practitioner of traditional magic, only to return many years later to attempt to reunite with Kalaman. She is mistrusted by both Damac and, to a certain degree, Kalaman himself.

Other important characters in the story include Kalaman's grandfather; his father, Yaqut; and his nursemaid.

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