One day, long before the troubles, he slipped away without saying a word to anyone and never went back. And then another day, forty three years later, he collapsed just inside the front door of his house in a small English town. It was late in the day when it happened, on his way home after work, but it was also late in the day altogether. He had left things for too long and there was no one to blame for it but himself.
Abbas has never told anyone about his past - before he was a sailor on the high seas, before he met his wife Maryam outside a Boots in Exeter, before they settled into a quiet life in Norwich with their children, Jamal and Hanna. Now, at the age of sixty-three, he suffers a collapse that renders him bedbound and unable to speak about things he thought he would one day have to.
Jamal and Hanna have grown up and gone out into the world. They were both born in England but cannot shake a sense of apartness. Hanna calls herself Anna now, and has just moved to a new city to be near her boyfriend. She feels the relationship is headed somewhere serious, but the words have not yet been spoken out loud. Jamal, the listener of the family, moves into a student house and is captivated by a young woman with dark-blue eyes and her own, complex story to tell. Abbas's illness forces both children home, to the dark silences of their father and the fretful capability of their mother Maryam, who began life as a foundling and has never thought to find herself, until now.
An extraordinary depiction of the life of an immigrant, as he struggles to come to terms with the horror of his past and the meaning of his pilgrimage to EnglandDear Catherine, he began. Here I sit, making a meal out of asking you to dinner. I don't really know how to do it. To have cultural integrity, I would have to send my aunt to speak, discreetly, to your aunt, who would then speak to your mother, who would speak to my mother, who would speak to my father, who would speak to me and then approach your mother, who would then approach you. Demoralised by small persecutions and the squalor and poverty of his life, Daud takes refuge in his imagination. He composes wry, sardonic letters hectoring friends and enemies, and invents a lurid colonial past for every old man he encounters. His greatest solace is cricket and the symbolic defeat of the empire at the hands of the mighty West Indies. Although subject to attacks of bitterness and remorse, his captivating sense of humour never deserts him as he struggles to come to terms with the horror of his past and the meaning of his pilgrimage to England.
A searing tale of a young woman discovering her troubled family history and cultural pastDottie Badoura Fatma Balfour finds solace amidst the squalor of her childhood by spinning warm tales of affection about her beautiful names. But she knows nothing of their origins, and little of her family history Â? or the abuse her ancestors suffered as they made their home in Britain.At seventeen, she takes on the burden of responsibility for her brother and sister and is obsessed with keeping the family together. However, as Sophie, lumpen yet voluptuous, drifts away, and the confused Hudson is absorbed into the world of crime, Dottie is forced to consider her own needs. Building on her fragmented, tantalising memories, she begins to clear a path through life, gradually gathering the confidence to take risks, to forge friendships and to challenge the labels that have been forced upon her.
Vehement, comic and shrewd, Abdulrazak Gurnah's first novel is an unwavering contemplation of East African coastal lifePoverty and depravity wreak havoc on Hassan Omar's family. Amid great hardship he decides to escape. The arrival of Independence brings new upheavals as well as the betrayal of the promise of freedom. The new government, fearful of an exodus of its most able men, discourages young people from travelling abroad and refuses to release examination results. Deprived of a scholarship, Hassan travels to Nairobi to stay with a wealthy uncle, in the hope that he will release his mother's rightful share of the family inheritance. The collision of past secrets and future hopes, the compound of fear and frustration, beauty and brutality, create a fierce tale of undeniable power.
Masterfully blending myth and reality, this is the story of a man's escape from his native Zanzibar to England to build a new life. A dazzling tale of cultural identity and displacementHe thinks, as he escapes from Zanzibar, that he will probably never return, and yet the dream of studying in England matters above that.Things do not happen quite as he imagined Â? the school where he teaches is cramped and violent, he forgets how it feels to belong. But there is Emma, beautiful, rebellious Emma, who turns away from her white, middle-class roots to offer him love and bear him a child. And in return he spins stories of his home and keeps her a secret from his family. Twenty years later, when the barriers at last come down in Zanzibar, he is able and compelled to go back. What he discovers there, in a story potent with truth, will change the entire vision of his life.
Moving from revolutionary Zanzibar in the 1960s to restless London in the 1990s, Gravel Heart is a powerful story of exile, migration and betrayal, from the Booker Prize-shortlisted author of Paradise
Salim has always believed that his father does not want him. Living with his parents and his adored Uncle Amir in a house full of secrets, he is a bookish child, a dreamer haunted by night terrors.
It is the 1970s and Zanzibar is changing. Tourists arrive, the island's white sands obscuring the memory of recent conflict: longed-for independence from British colonialism swiftly followed by bloody revolution. When his father moves out, retreating into dishevelled introspection, Salim is confused and ashamed. His mother explains neither this nor her absences with a strange man; silence is layered on silence.
When glamorous Uncle Amir, now a senior diplomat, offers Salim an escape, the lonely teenager travels to London for college. But nothing has prepared him for the biting cold and seething crowds of this hostile city. Struggling to find a foothold, and to understand the darkness at the heart of his family, Salim must face devastating truths about himself and those closest to him - and about love, sex and power.
Evoking the immigrant experience with unsentimental precision and profound insight, Gravel Heart is a powerfully affecting story of isolation, identity, belonging and betrayal, and is Abulrazak Gurnah's most dazzling achievement.