Maps ($23.95; Aug.; 272 pp.; 1-55970-485-3): Originally published in 1986, this is the first installment in Farah’s abovementioned trilogy (its concluding volume, Secrets, appeared here alone in 1998). One senses autobiographical resonance in the story’s concentration on Askar, a Somalian boy orphaned by his mother’s death when she bore him and the loss of his father, a combat soldier serving in Somalia’s (1977—78) war against Ethiopia. Askar’s dilemma—whether to “belong” to his loving (Ethiopian) foster mother Misra or join the Somalian Liberation Front and emulate his father’s selfless courage—is subtly explored in a tense narrative alive with local color that’s both an affecting character study and a dramatic allegory of the confusions still plaguing a wounded and deeply conflicted society. One of the best novels out of Africa in some time.