Paradise is Abdulrazak Gurnah’s great novel. At twelve, Yusuf, the protagonist of this twentieth-century odyssey, is sold by his father in repayment of a debt. Paradise [Abdulrazak Gurnah] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A finalist for the Booker Prize, England’s highest honor for works of. Or perhaps paradise is the garden he has tended? This, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s fourth novel, is many-layered, violent, beautiful and strange.

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Paradise is a little book about a boy named Yusuf who grows into manhood in East Africa. As a coming of age story it is remarkably simple and straightforward, but the way in which Abdulrazak Gurnah illuminates the tremendous historical abdulrazzak sweeping around Yusuf, and does so while still maintaining the narrative integrity of his man-child protagonist, is simply breathtaking.

Yusuf starts out in a provincial town in the East African interior, the son of a poor hotel owner.

Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah

He is mortgaged by his father to pay his deepening debt to a man Yusuf knows only as Uncle Aziz. Yusuf travels in the care of Uncle Aziz to abfulrazak coast, where he befriends Khalil, another debt-slave whose has secrets Yusuf will eventually discover.

Yusuf is an exceptionally beautiful boy and a very sensitive observer who cries at visions he sees in his dreams.

His journeys in Paradise mirror two processes which bound the interiors of Eastern Africa to the Western Indian Ocean–one a process of the migration often via slavery and subsequent Islamization of upcountry Africans, and the other a venturing into the interior as far as Eastern Congo by armed bands of Swahili-Arab traders. Gurnah’s description of life on the caravan road is illuminative and he vividly portrays the ‘utani’ relationship of sly joking and storytelling by which the porters structured the monotony of the march.


He also gives one of the richest explorations through dialogue of the fantastic dimensions of East African Islamic mythology, in which the ‘washenzi’ lurk in the lands of Gog and Magog waiting to destroy the believers and dragons, birds, jinns, and ghosts all inhabit a universe in intimate interaction with humans.


paaradise Finally in the background are the Germans, a brooding silent foreboding force who everyone around Yusuf speaks of with trepidation, and who intervene at a key point in the novel. Gurnah accurately captures the ambigous status of Yusuf as grows up on the eve of European colonial rule, and searches for a way out of his dependency. His unexpected decision ends the book abruptly, almost breathlessly, but somehow completely appropriately.

In this single last sentence, Gurnah has somehow captured what Jonathan Glassman calls “the contradictory dimensions of slave resistance,” the moral dilemma through which Yusuf will shape an independent destiny for himself.

Paradise more than lives up to his name and will offer students of East African history and literature a beautiful and compelling read. The novel was very captivating and I enjoyed reading the novel especially as it depicted the richness of the culture and an era of the past. The ending was so abrupt that I was astonished.

All I can say it was a great piece of literature in english from a Son of Zanzibar. I have most of his books and they were very worth reading.

So imaginative and sensitive in the recreation of lost worlds. I wish that he had written more books.


I am now encouraged to find the two that I have not read: A most impressive author! October 6, Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah. Posted by Nathaniel Mathews at Newer Post Older Post Home. Twitter Tweets by AzanianSea.

The Azanian Sea The Azanian Sea was founded in as a web resource and online hub for information, inspiration and informed abeulrazak on the African presence in the Indian Ocean. The name is derived paradisr the famous 8th century travel document the Wbdulrazak of the Erythrean Sea and refers to the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean adjacent to Africa. The mission of The Azanian Sea is to provide high quality web content about Africa and the Indian Ocean and create spaces for cultural exchange and dialogue.

The Badulrazak Ocean has been called the ‘cradle of globalization’ and in our globally interconnected world, there is a need for spaces which discuss the impact of economic and social globalization and its impact on local culture.

We believe in making knowledge relevant and illuminative— in bringing the academy to the streets of Dar-es-Salaam or to the souq in Muscat. Over the years, the blog has become a platform for theological and philosophical commentary on racism, whiteness, Christianity, Islam and world history. The Azanian Sea is primarily run as a labor of love by Dr.

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