By EW Staff
Updated March 26, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

More than 10 years after the ambush slaughter of 18 U.S. soldiers indelibly marked the city of Mogadishu in the American consciousness, Somali-born writer Nuruddin Farah recasts the killing ground of Black Hawk Down with a native’s eye: On the heels of the Marines’ withdrawal, Jeebleh, an exiled political prisoner, returns from New York to visit his mother’s grave, only to plunge into a Dantean wasteland of vultures and khat-chewing teen soldiers. Worse, he becomes enmeshed in a family row between his friend Bile, an idealistic physician, and Bile’s sadistic half brother, Caloosha, who may have kidnapped the doctor’s young niece. Farah’s ambitious narrative effectively depicts the moral murkiness of tribal conflict, yet often sags under the weight of clunky prose and characters prone to speechifying. Nonetheless, Links is a nuanced tale of lives wrenched apart both by civil war and by foreign meddling.