When Asad was eight years old, his mother was shot in front of him. With his father in hiding, he was swept alone into the great wartime migration that has scattered the Somali people throughout the world.
This extraordinary book tells Asad's story. Serially betrayed by the people who promised to care for him, Asad lived his childhood at a sceptical remove from the adult world, living in a bewildering number of places, from the cosmopolitan streets of inner-city Nairobi to towns deep in the Ethiopian desert.
By the time he reached the cusp of adulthood, Asad had made good as a street hustler, brokering relationships between hardnosed Ethiopian businessmen and bewildered Somali refugees. He also courted the famously beautiful Foosiya, and married her, to the astonishment of his peers.
Buoyed by success in work and in love, Asad put $1,200 in his pocket and made his way down the length of the African continent to Johannesburg, whose streets he believed to be lined with gold. So began an adventure in a country richer and more violent than he could possibly have imagined. A Man of Good Hope is the story of a person shorn of the things we have come to believe make us human - personal possessions, parents, siblings. And yet Asad's is an intensely human life, one suffused with dreams and desires and a need to leave something of permanence on this earth.
Jonny Steinberg was born in South Africa. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Midlands and The Number, which both won the Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize (South Africa's premier non-fiction literary award). He is currently a lecturer in African Studies and Criminology at the University of Oxford.