Around this time, Farah began his writing career with From a Crooked Rib (1970), the story of a nomad girl who flees from an arranged marriage to a much older man. The novel garnered Farah mild but international acclaim. On a tour of Europe following the publication of A Naked Needle, Farah was warned that the Somali government planned to arrest him for its contents. Rather than return and face imprisonment, Farah began a self-imposed exile that would last for twenty-two years, teaching in the United States, Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Sudan, Gambia, and India.
Farah's later work consists of two trilogies of novels: "Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship," and "Blood in the Sun." "Variations" attacks the corruption of many authoritarian postcolonial African regimes, comparing them to the abuses of European colonialists; the trilogy also continues to explore gender issues, particularly the practice of female genital cutting.
Though "Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship" was well-received in a number of countries, Farah's reputation was cemented by his most famous novel, Maps (1986), the first novel of the Blood in the Sun trilogy. Maps, set during the Ogaden conflict of 1977, employs the technique of second-person narration for exploring questions of cultural identity in a postcolonial world. Farah followed the novel with Gifts (1993) and Secrets (1998).
In 2000, as suggested by Arne Ruth, editor of Sweden's Dagens Nyheter newspaper, Farah penned Yesterday, Tomorrow, a narrative collection of tales from the Somali Diaspora following the 1991 collapse of Mogadishu.
In 1996, Farah returned to Somalia, settling again in Mogadishu. He was awarded the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, second only to the Nobel in prestige. He is widely considered one of the greatest writers in Africa today.
Wright, Derek. "The Novels of Nuruddin Farah." Bayreuth African Studies Vol 32, 2nd edition, Bayreuth: 200421:34