In telling of Ebla, an 18-year-old runaway who seeks solace in the home of her Mogadishu cousin, Nuruddin Farah draws multiple comparisons to the lives of animals. In one segment, the reader hears of monkeys who cake their female’s vagina with dirt in order to stave off – or reveal signs of – adultery. In another, Ebla reflects on the camels milked, calved, and sold for their value to humans – a relationship that parallels the bartering and sale of wives to men. Ebla sees herself, her friends, and particularly the men she meets, as no better than animals – acting as animals do for affection, sex, and prestige. The young woman’s confusion about her destiny makes this a difficult novel to mine as Ebla’s journey is incomplete and articulated realistically as that of an unexposed farm girl. But it may be that simplicity is the whole point; Ebla discovers her own path from girlishness to womanhood with no ambitions greater than gaining respect as a woman, making peace in her relations with men, and finding pleasure and comfort as she can. It is a base but pure reality that finds itself corrupted and overly complicated only when put into the ironically 'elevated' hands of men.