Abdulrazak Gurnah

Memory of Departure

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**By the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021**

Vehement, comic and shrewd, Abdulrazak Gurnah's first novel is an unwavering contemplation of East African coastal life
Poverty 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.
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208 printed pages
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  • Juan Eduardo Mateos Floreshas quotedlast year
    After the funeral, my father said: God will make you pay for the boy’s death. My grandmother said I had stood and watched him die a terrible death. What hope is there, she said, when brother murders brother? My mother told me to stop crying and that I could not help what had happened. They made me live years of guilt for a wrong I had not done. And then it was possible to hone self hate and remorse into a tool for causing pain. Creatures rose in the night to suck my blood and bloat me with waste and sin. I fought them in the way they had shown me. I paid them back pain for pain, silence for silence. I learnt how to reject them.
  • metteovehas quoted2 years ago
    Perhaps it’s something to do with the sea. It is so indescribably desolate and hostile. When the sea is rough, our little craft bobs on billions of cubic miles of creation as if it were not even a fragment of existence. At other times the sea is so calm, so beautifully bright and glistening, so solid-seeming, and treacherous. I hanker for the feel of good, solid earth under my feet
  • Juan Eduardo Mateos Floreshas quoted2 years ago
    ‘What chance have you got if you stay here?’ my teacher asked me. ‘The best you’ll do will be a job in a bank, or become a teacher. Unless you have powerful relatives I don’t know about.

    ‘There is no dishonour in becoming a bank clerk. It is all rizki, the bounty of God, but it is not what the country needs. We need engineers, doctors, graduates. We don’t need philosophers and story-tellers but forestry officers, scientists and veterinary surgeons. Culture is for the rich. Culture is decadence. Look at Rome. Look at Persia. Look at Baghdad, look at Cairo. What did culture bring them but ruin?’

    He taught us English literature, and was often moved into long harangues on the destructive ignorance of European arrogance. ‘Chemistry, algebra, astronomy . . . all these were things that Muslims taught to the backward Europeans. But then the Muslims gave up the discipline of the desert. They wanted banquets and festivals and luxury. Their enemies soon destroyed them, because they knew in their barbarian hearts that culture is decadence. So don’t worry your head with this Shakespeare. A lot of people say he didn’t even exist anyway, or that if he did, he was an eastern sage whose work was translated into English. You know what these Europeans are like.

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