Finalist for the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award for Excellence in African Writing, 2019
The Youth of God tells the story of Nuur, a sensitive and academically gifted seventeen-year-old boy growing up in Toronto's Somali neighbourhood, as he negotiates perilously between the calling of his faith and his intellectual ambitions. Trying to influence him are a radical Muslim imam and a book-loving, dedicated teacher who shares his background. In its telling, this novel reveals the alienated lives of Somali youth in an environment riddled with crime and unemployment, while still in the grip of bitter memories of a home left behind. This intensely moving novel is also a powerful allegory of the struggle for the soul of Islam in modern times.
Hassan Ghedi Santur emigrated from Somalia to Canada at age thirteen. He has a BA in English Literature and an MA in journalism from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He has worked as a radio journalist for CBC Radio. In 2010 he published his debut novel Something Remains, and Maps of Exile, an exploration of the plight of African migrants in Europe.
"The Youth of God is a story about love, and how the lack of embodied love can starve a young person's ability to make choices in their best interests. It is a painful reminder of the immense vulnerability of promising third-culture kids who navigate a double exile. While nominally a work of fiction, The Youth of God should be read as a cautionary tale of what can transpire when at-risk youth are allowed to slip through the cracks." --Quill and Quire, starred review
"In writing The Youth of God, Santur has carved a space within what is an expanding canon of Somali literature written in European languages?Santur eloquently depicts various struggles of the Somali diaspora that cut across generations, genders, and geographies as he simultaneously humanizes but does not justify a radicalization that transcends borders." --Africa Is a Country
"A brave novel that lays bare the complexity and pull of extremism." --Broken Pencil Magazine
"The Youth of God is a great accomplishment. It's a community's story of war, immigration and the constant preoccupation with finding safety.
Santur manages to do what only great novelists can do: tell a harrowing tale with nuance, grace, and a lot of compassion. Each character is complex, each person's story comes with many layers. I couldn't put it down." --Kagiso Lesego Molope, author of This Book Betrays My Brother