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Gurnah, Abdulrazak

yusif zanzibar set

(Tanzanian, 1948– )

Gurnah was born in Zanzibar, which provides the setting for several of his novels, and he currently teaches literature at the University of Kent. Begin with Paradise (1994, Booker Prize-shortlisted) set in the Islamic world of early twentieth-century East Africa. It chronicles the rites of passage of the boy Yusif, sold by his father into the service of his rich, perfumed merchant uncle. Yusif's experiences range from a trading expedition into the African interior, to finding love in a paradisical garden. Gurnah draws on myth and traditional Arabian Nights story-telling, but never at the expense of Yusif's vividly real responses to his experience. Admiring Silence (1996), set in the present, describes a man's escape from his native Zanzibar to a new life in England, and his subsequent

return home.

Naguib Mahfouz, Tayeb Salih, Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)  JR

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