Gifts ($23.95; Aug.; 256 pp.; 1-55970-484-5). The second in the eminent Somalian writer’s Blood in the Sun trilogy (see below), having first appeared in 1992, offers another sensitive dramatization of the survival of Somalia’s embattled native populace. This comparatively episodic story’s appealing center is Duniya, a widowed matriarch whose transformation from simple village girl to a confident woman (who masters even the unfamiliar skills of swimming and driving a car) nicely emblemizes her people’s resilience and unpretentious courage. Duniya is a lovely character, and this is, on balance, the most immediately accessible panel of a very impressive work that (together with Farah’s earlier trilogy, Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship) confirms the author’s position among his continent’s finest writers and, arguably, among the world’s.