“[Gurnah’s novels] recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world.” —Nobel Committee for Literature at the Swedish Academy
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award, Paradise was characterized by the Nobel Prize committee as Abdulrazak Gurnah’s “breakthrough” work. It is at once the chronicle of an African boy’s coming-of-age, a tragic love story, and a tale of the corruption of African tradition by European colonialism.
Sold by his father in repayment of a debt, twelve-year-old Yusuf is thrown from his simple rural life into complexities of pre-colonial urban East Africa. Through Yusuf’s eyes, Gurnah depicts communities at war, trading safaris gone awry, and the universal trials of adolescence. The result is what Publishers Weekly calls a “vibrant” and “powerful” work that “evokes the Edenic natural beauty of a continent on the verge of full-scale imperialist takeover.”