One day long ago, Abbas slipped away without saying a word and never went back. And then another day, forty three years later, he collapsed by the front door of his house in a small English town. He has never told anyone about his past, and now Abbas is incapable of speech. His illness brings home his children Jamal and Hanna; and amidst the dark silence, the truth seeps out. Moving from Africa to Britain and across the seas between, Gurnah explores how our lives are shaped by the places and secrets of our past.