E-book excerpt: “Afterlives” by Abdulrazak Gurnah

“Afterlives” (Riverhead), the newest novel by the 2021 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, presents an intimate have a look at village life in East Africa throughout the interval of German colonialism within the early twentieth century.

Learn an excerpt under. 



Khalifa was twenty‑six years outdated when he met the service provider Amur Biashara. On the time he was working for a small non-public financial institution owned by two Gujarati brothers. The Indian‑run non-public banks have been the one ones that had dealings with native retailers and accommodated themselves to their methods of doing enterprise. The massive banks needed enterprise run by paperwork and securities and ensures, which didn’t at all times swimsuit native retailers who labored on networks and associations invisible to the bare eye. The brothers employed Khalifa as a result of he was associated to them on his father’s facet. Maybe associated was too sturdy a phrase however his father was from Gujarat too and in some cases that was relation sufficient. His mom was a countrywoman. Khalifa’s father met her when he was engaged on the farm of an enormous Indian landowner, two days’ journey from the city, the place he stayed for many of his grownup life. Khalifa didn’t look Indian, or not the sort of Indian they have been used to seeing in that a part of the world. His complexion, his hair, his nostril, all favored his African mom however he cherished to announce his lineage when it suited him. Sure, sure, my father was an Indian. I do not look it, hey? He married my mom and stayed loyal to her. Some Indian males mess around with African ladies till they’re able to ship for an Indian spouse then abandon them. My father by no means left my mom.

His father’s title was Qassim and he was born in a small village in Gujarat which had its wealthy and its poor, its Hindus and its Muslims and even some Hubshi Christians. Qassim’s household was Muslim and poor. He grew up a diligent boy who was used to hardship. He was despatched to a mosque college in his village after which to a Gujarati‑talking authorities college within the city close to his dwelling. His personal father was a tax collector who traveled the countryside for his employer, and it was his concept that Qassim ought to be despatched to high school in order that he too might turn into a tax collector or one thing equally respectable. His father didn’t reside with them. He solely ever got here to see them two or 3 times in a yr. Qassim’s mom taken care of her blind mom‑in‑legislation in addition to 5 youngsters. He was the eldest and he had a youthful brother and three sisters. Two of his sisters, the 2 youngest, died once they have been small. Their father despatched cash from time to time however they needed to take care of themselves within the village and do no matter work they might discover. When Qassim was sufficiently old, his lecturers on the Gujarati‑talking college inspired him to sit down for a scholarship at an elementary English‑medium college in Bombay, and after that his luck started to vary. His father and different kinfolk organized a mortgage to permit him to lodge as greatest he might in Bombay whereas he attended the college. In time his state of affairs improved as a result of he grew to become a lodger with the household of a college buddy, who additionally helped him to search out work as a tutor of youthful youngsters. The few annas he earned there helped him to help himself.

Quickly after he completed college, a suggestion got here for him to hitch a landowner’s bookkeeping workforce on the coast of Africa. It appeared like a blessing, opening a door to a livelihood for him and maybe some journey.

From “Afterlives” by Abdulrazak Gurnah. Copyright © 2022 by Abdulrazak Gurnah. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead, an imprint and division of Penguin Random Home LLC, New York. All rights reserved. No a part of this excerpt could also be reproduced or reprinted with out permission in writing from the writer.

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