Category: Tanzania

Abdulrazak Gurnah: Afterlives

The latest addition to my website is Abdulrazak Gurnah‘s Afterlives. The novel tells the story of the country that will become Tanzania from the beginning of the 20th century (when it was under German control) to independence in 1961. The focus, however, is on the story of a few individuals when the country was under German control. These are ordinary people struggling to make a living in an unnamed town, though, with one exception, they are not overly affected by the German occupation. Khalifa works as a clerk and marries the boss’s niece. Ilyas is very pro-German,as a German officer helped him when he was being brutalised by an askari. Afriya, his younger sister is ill-treated by her relatives when her parents die. Hamza joins up to fight for the Germans in World War I and sees and is a victim of a lot of brutality but survives. While condemning the Germans for their cruelty, he is also critical of the British. He tells a first-class story while showing us the political situation in his country over some sixty years.

Nobel Prize for Literature to Abdulrazak Gurnah

Well, nobody expected that! I am glad to say that I have read three of Abdulrazak Gurnah‘s work and enjoyed it. It was, of course, about time an African won it though everyone expected it would be Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and not Gurnah. Anyway, congratulations to Abdulrazak Gurnah and to the Nobel Prize Committee for fooling us once again.

Jordi Puntí: Maletes perdudes (Lost Luggage)

The latest addition to my website is Jordi Puntí‘s Maletes perdudes (Lost Luggage). It tells the story of four half-brothers, each from a different country, who were unaware of each other’s existence and who come together in Barcelona to learn more about their lost father and one another. We follow the story of their father, Gabriel, who worked for an international moving company and met and impregnated their respective mothers, as well as his fellow movers and partners in crime (they stole freely from the items they moved). At the beginning of the book he seems to have disappeared but left ample documentation about his colourful life, the four mothers and the four (possibly five) sons. It is a well-written and very lively story as the four learn about their father and one another.

Abdulrazak Gurnah: Gravel Heart

The latest addition to my website is Abdulrazak Gurnah‘s Gravel Heart. Salim is a Tanzanian, living in Zanzibar. He lives with his parents but, when he is seven, his father moves out and lives in a small room. He also leaves his job at the water company and works at a market stall. Salim naturally does not know why this has happened. Part of the book is the explanation of why the father moved out. However, though the father explains all to Salim at the end of the book, we have more or less learned well before this the reason and the big revelation is not a big revelation but merely a filling in of details. In between we follow Salim’s life, first in Zanzibar and then in London and, finally, his return to Zanzibar to hear all from his father. It is an enjoyable enough book, following Salim’s life, but given that the big revelation occurred about half way through it is not terribly exciting as we follow his fairly mundane love, social and professional life.

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