Abdulrazak Gurnah

Memory of Departure

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Vehement, comic and shrewd, Abdulrazak Gurnah's first novel is an unwavering contemplation of East African coastal lifePoverty 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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    metteovecompartió una citahace 3 días
    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 Florescompartió una citahace 14 días
    ‘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.
    Juan Eduardo Mateos Florescompartió una citahace 14 días
    When I woke up, my father was leaning against her bed. The door was open, and the hurricane lamp that was left burning in the hallway through the night, lit up part of the room. I could not see him clearly, and I wish I never had. The bed was behind the shadow of the door. He smelt drunk. He tried to hide his drinking from us because he was ashamed of it. I saw him holding my mother’s wrist and whispering. It was the first time I had seen him touch her like that. Suddenly he straightened, then leaned forward and hit her. He started whispering again, more loudly this time.

    ‘You’re trying to keep me out. Because of him! What good is he anyway? Oh my mother, why do you want to annoy me?’

    My mother tried to hush him, and I saw her hand reach out for his face. He brushed her hand away and leaned back.

    ‘Why do you have to bring him here?’ he asked in a voice I did not know, appealing to her. ‘You’re trying to keep me out . . . for that dirty little murderer. What do you take me for, you snivelling bitch?’

    He struck her again, and again, grunting heavily. And again. He struggled onto the bed and pulled away the kanga she was wearing around her. My mother did not struggle and did not speak. She groaned, it seemed involuntarily, every now and again. I shut my eyes tightly and I heard his body moving on top of her. I heard him groaning and muttering, his voice coming thick and muffled off the bed. My grandmother’s door opened. My father paused, head raised as if waiting for her approach. Then he chuckled.

    ‘Come and see, my old woman,’ he called. ‘Come and watch me killing her.’

    Then he began again, whispering and muttering, and fucking her. After a while there was silence. I heard him sobbing. I heard him lifting himself up, and through my tears I saw him leaning over me. Get out, he said. I struggled on all fours out of the room. My grandmother was standing outside in the hallway. I started to crawl towards her, feeling weak and feeble from the fever. Slowly she turned and went to her room and closed the door behind her. I heard the bolt gently slide home. I spent the night curled up outside my grandmother’s door.

    I could only feel terror and loathing for the world they had brought me into.

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