The Private Apartments

The Private Apartments

Written by: Omar, Idman Nur

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Moving, insightful, linked stories about the determination of Somali immigrants — despite duty, discrimination, and an ever-dissolving link to a war-torn homeland.

In the insular rooms of The Private Apartments, a cleaning lady marries her employer’s nephew and then abandons him. A woman accepts an opulent gold bangle from one man yet weds another. A depressed young mother finds unlikely support in her community housing complex. A new bride attends weddings to escape her abusive marriage. A failed nurse is sent to relatives in Dubai after a nervous breakdown. 

Beginning in 1991, the year the Somali Civil War started, these eight articulate stories dwell in the domestic sphere — marriages, friendships, families — in high-rises and low-income neighbourhoods from Rome to Toronto. Resilient, resolved women do what it takes to thrive in new cities, while feeling estranged from a conflict-ridden homeland and grappling with the privilege of having the resources to facilitate such an escape. Recurring characters are delicate threads that eloquently showcase the intricate linkages of human experience and the ways in which Somalis, even as a diaspora, are indelibly connected.

Moving, insightful, linked stories about the determination of Somali immigrants — despite duty, discrimination, and an ever-dissolving link to a war-torn homeland.

In the insular rooms of The Private Apartments, a cleaning lady marries her employer’s nephew and then abandons him. A woman accepts an opulent gold bangle from one man yet weds another. A depressed young mother finds unlikely support in her community housing complex. A new bride attends weddings to escape her abusive marriage. A failed nurse is sent to relatives in Dubai after a nervous breakdown. 

Beginning in 1991, the year the Somali Civil War started, these eight articulate stories dwell in the domestic sphere — marriages, friendships, families — in high-rises and low-income neighbourhoods from Rome to Toronto. Resilient, resolved women do what it takes to thrive in new cities, while feeling estranged from a conflict-ridden homeland and grappling with the privilege of having the resources to facilitate such an escape. Recurring characters are delicate threads that eloquently showcase the intricate linkages of human experience and the ways in which Somalis, even as a diaspora, are indelibly connected.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — May 2, 2023
Specifications 304 pages | 5.5 in x 7 in
Written By

IDMAN NUR OMAR was born in Rome and immigrated to Canada in 1991. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph and an MA in English Literature from Concordia University. She lives in Calgary, where she teaches at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Communication and Liberal Arts Studies Department.

Written By

IDMAN NUR OMAR was born in Rome and immigrated to Canada in 1991. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph and an MA in English Literature from Concordia University. She lives in Calgary, where she teaches at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Communication and Liberal Arts Studies Department.


The Private Apartments absorbed me from the very beginning. Idman Nur Omar is a skilled writer, whose sensitive and stirring depiction of the lives of Somali immigrants calls to mind Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. I cared about these characters. I felt curious about them, gutted for them. I kept reading as much for the crisp, graceful writing and complicated, human portraits as to see what would happen next.

” —Shashi Bhat, author of The Most Precious Substance on Earth