Edgelands by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali

Read an excerpt

70,000 words
Manuscript available August 2021

RIGHTS SOLD

Canada: Knopf Canada, fall 2021

ABOUT MOHAMED ABDULKARIM ALI

Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali (Photo: Philip Sutherland)
(Photo: Philip Sutherland)

Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali, born in Mogadishu, Somalia, is a survivor. He survived civil war, a shattered family, dislocations, abuse, homelessness, addiction and alcoholism. He wrote his first book, Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir, which was selected as one of the best works of non-fiction to come in 2019 by CBC Books, while living in a homeless shelter. He currently lives in Toronto.

Edgelands
Exploring Society’s Margins

by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali

FROM THE AUTHOR OF ANGRY QUEER SOMALI BOY: A COMPLICATED MEMOIR COMES A NEW BOOK THAT EXAMINES THE CULTURAL MOSAICS CONCENTRATED IN LARGE URBAN CITIES AND SHEDS AN UNFLINCHING LIGHT ON THESE FALSE URBAN UTOPIAS

Edgelands: The apparently unplanned, certainly uncelebrated and largely incomprehensible territory where town and country meet [and] rarely forms the setting[s] for films, books or television shows…. Sometimes these area are so little acknowledged that they have not even been given distinctive names.

They are the “ignored landscape.”

— Marion Shoard, Edgelands

Toronto is where fears and hopes collide. Distrust permeates the air. Drivers save seconds by upending the lives of those on foot. Dreams land at Pearson Airport and are whisked away to the anonymous high-rises that dot the landscape. Aspiration pours into the city via the 400 series highways, zipping along in moving trucks and sedans packed with heavy boxes.

Are we still Toronto the Good? Are we a mosaic of cultural and religious diversity? Who are these people who travel miles and cross land and sea to set up shop in the 416, 647, 289 and 437?

Who gets to be in the city and who gets to tell its stories?

In Edgeland’s: Exploring Society’s Margins, Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali sets forth to answer all these questions and many more in an effort to offer a better understanding of the urban world by using his own experiences and education in urban planning as starting points. Though “edgelands” was originally a term coined by Marion Shoard in 2002 to describe the space between town and country, Ali applies it to all the marginalized people of the world, whether they be in the city center or anywhere else.

As a person who has been forced across several borders, both geographical and personal, Ali is intrigued by the way we choose to live amongst and beside each other. Through a series of walks around Toronto, the reader will see the modern metropolis through Ali’s eyes as he seeks to examine the causes of discomfort that exist here by delving into such topics as:

  • Transience
    Having experienced two episodes of homelessness in his life, Ali writes on how the city’s usually welcoming buildings become impermeable barriers when one becomes homeless.
  • Edgelands
    Ali explores what confinement to a particular area can do to the psyche and how a sense of placelessness allows for a transience of the mind that can be exhilarating, yet also valueless if one does not have the cultural frame of reference to see its worth.

If you thought you knew everything there was to know about Toronto, think again. Edgelands: Exploring Society’s Margins will open your eyes to the true Toronto as Ali seeks the truth to the questions not many people are willing to burden themselves with.


ALSO AVAILABLE:

Mona, or the Span of My Uncertain Years: a novel

Mona is the name of a crossdresser who was born a boy named Mahdi. She hails from the Somali community and is found dead in her apartment surrounded by upturned furniture. The police declare it a suicide but her friend, Bilal, knows Mona wouldn’t kill herself. As he clears out her apartment, he comes across a stack of notebooks. In them he finds descriptions of a person he doesn’t recognize. The notebooks reveal Mona’s descent into a world of sadomasochism and her evolution as a crossdresser. They reveal the names of people Bilal goes in search of in order to better understand what happened to his friend. The novel asks us to think about how revenge and desire can often blind us to what is right. How can we come out on the right side of events when our honour or dignity has been impugned?


PRAISE FOR MOHAMED ABDULKARIM ALI'S ANGRY QUEER SOMALI BOY: A COMPLICATED MEMOIR

“Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali is a remarkable writer.” — THE GLOBE AND MAIL, “Ten recent books on racism in Canada and the U.S.”

“This gorgeous novel vibrates with life. Williams’ compassion for his characters transforms them from ordinary beings into uncommon souls. We know these people: their flaws, their foibles and their fuck-ups. We recognise them because we share the same vagaries of living, wherever we are born. Stylistically inventive and narratively compelling, Reproduction is a stunning achievement.”  — CBC BOOKS

“One of “The Best LGBTQ Memoirs of 2019.” — THE ADVOCATE

“Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali has been through a lot since he was born almost 35 years ago in Mogadishu, Somalia. A ruinous civil war; migrating to the Netherlands and then to Canada, a Muslim in a strange land; a fractured family; discovering he was gay; homelessness, alcoholism and addiction. You might say that anyone who's lived through all that should write a memoir. That's what he did. It's called Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir, and it was widely acclaimed as one of the best Canadian books of 2019.” — CBC BOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

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