The Fortune Men, by Nadifa Mohamed
17 September 2021
The Fortune Men (published by Viking/Penguin Random House, May 2021) is the third novel by London based author Nadifa Mohamed. The year is 1952, and Mahmood Mattan is a Somali sailor living in Tiger Bay, the docklands area of Cardiff, Wales. Married to Laura, with three children, he is something of a larrikin character and a small time criminal.
When a local shop owner is murdered one evening, and Mattan is named as a suspect, he isn’t too worried at first. He had no part in the atrocity, and is certain he would be cleared by the justice system should charges ever be laid. But when a customer present at the store at the time of the murder changes their statement, Mattan is convicted of the crime.
While later found to be a gross miscarriage of justice, from which he was posthumously exonerated, The Fortune Men is a fictionalised account of Matten’s trial and conviction. In being included in the short list of this year’s Booker Prize, Nadifa Mohamed becomes the first British Somali novelist to achieve the distinction.