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Born in the Big Rains
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Fadumo Korn

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Sabine Eichhorst

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Born in the Big Rains

A Memoir of Somalia and Survival
Fadumo Korn & Sabine Eichhorst

Translated by Tobe Levin. Afterword by Tobe Levin.

As a feisty nomad, Fadumo freely roamed the wild steppes of her native Somalia until her mother delivered her into the hands of an excisor to undergo female genital cutting (FGC, also known as female genital mutilation or FGM), to be made a woman in the eyes of her tribe. The complications brought on by the circumcision provide the impetus to her search for health and her story. Fadumo first travels to the bustling city of Mogadishu and the household of a wealthy uncle, brother of the Somali president. She enters a world of luxury underpinned by political instability and cruelty in a country gearing for rebellion. As her symptoms worsen, she journeys to Germany, where she receives not only therapy but love and acceptance from the most unlikely of places.

Fadumo Korn weaves together a sensitive understanding of traditional practices with revelations about their disturbing effects. This deftly crafted tale, full of sorrow and surprising humor, provides a candid history of a life sculpted by crippling rheumatism and an unexpected path to recovery.

"Korn has authored a moving, unsentimental, and informative account of the painful personal experience that inspired, and continues to fuel her work."

People Magazine, Critic's Choice

"This impassioned, beautifully written memoir is a testament to the possibility of wedding literary prose to sophisticated political arguments . . . this is a brutally honest, politically sensitive and bold addition to literature on global women's health."

Publisher's Weekly

"A UN declaration demands the elimination of FGM. Yet the practice continues because it enforces men's sexual authority but also because women accept it as a cultural marker, a coming of age rite. Fadumo Korn's story limns the interstices of these social and very human contradictions. It is a courageous, deeply sympathetic, and indispensable testament."

—Elfriede Jellinek, 2004 Nobel Laureate in Literature

"What brings truly sustainable change is the courage of individuals like Fadumo Korn to move from survivors to impassioned advocates for justice. This book helps us all to understand how such a transformation is possible."

—Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of UNIFEM

"FGM is a trauma as much to the psyche as to the body. This riveting memoir lets readers witness every aspect of a complex and triumphantly successful recovery. Fadumo's past resilience carries over to her inspiring career as a champion of the reproductive rights of girls and women today."

—Efua Dorkeeno, Order of the British Empire; Ghanian women's health advocate; and founder, FORWARD - International

Born in the Big Rains begins like a beautifully written work of fiction . . . but the writing’s rich details and driving action belie that this is no tall tale . . . [Korn’s] testament on FGM [is] brave and full of strength.”

Feminist Review

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