The Fortune Men – Nadifa Mohamed


A novelised account of the real events of the a Somali man in Cardiff prison.

⫸ “Set in 1952 in Cardiff, The Fortune Men details the real events surrounding the wrongful imprisonment of Mahmood Mattan, a Somali seaman. False witness accounts and racist policing led to him being found guilty of the murder of a local shopkeeper. In prison his hope for justice dwindles as he fights conspiracy and prejudice in all corners.

You cannot look like prey here. You cannot show weakness or your days are numbered, like those of the Somali drunk the police beat to death last year. Mahmood had learnt to do the black man’s walk early on in Cardiff.

⫸ “This was a shocking story and a shameful part of Welsh history. Throughout the novel I thought – yes this is truly awful, but surely things were never that bad. I was in a state of disbelief by the end of it and nothing that was done in the wake of these events can ever make things right.

“I was going to say for a highly unusual piece of Welsh history this book is recommended, but I do have to wonder just how unusual it was.” – Suzy

⫸ “It took me a little bit to get into this book as we jumped between many different characters to begin with. But I soon came to appreciate the author’s meticulous detailing of both prime and sundry characters, including the murdered woman, the grieving family and the accused and his family. Their voices are authentic and the settings are vivid.

“Mohamed has chronicled an important part of both Welsh and Somali history. What results here ends up in the history books and Mohamed has dealt with the entire situation with compassion.” – Rachel


Published 2021
372 pages

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