The Wounding Journeys Of Abdulrazak Gurnah

Vikrant Dadawala at The Point:

In his more mature fiction, Gurnah returns obsessively to what feels like an endlessly extending late colonial moment, stretching from the late nineteenth century to the Revolution of 1964. It is in this moment that Gurnah’s world seems to be forged and lost; what comes after independence feels more like an epilogue than the start of something new. The sense of standing with one’s feet in the sand during a retreating tide, as magic disappears from the physical universe, is at the heart of Gurnah’s masterpieces: Paradise (1994), Desertion and Afterlives (2020). All three books linger with strange encounters in late colonial Africa: Sikhs and Muslims in lonely trading outposts debating the exact geographical location of Paradise; a European Orientalist stumbling out of the desert, alone and empty-handed, into the arms of a pious shopkeeper in a coastal town; the askaris of the German Schutztruppe and the soldiers of the British Indian army pursuing each other in long marches through the countryside.

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