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Paradise Paperback – 15 Nov 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (15 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747573999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747573999
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘Gurnah evokes his world in poetic prose which is pure and lucid — a small paradise in itself.’ -- Guardian

‘Paradise is alive with the unexpected. In it, an obliterated world is enthrallingly retrieved.’ -- Sunday Times

‘The pleasures, sadnesses and losses in all the shining facets of this book are lingering and exquisite.’ -- Guardian

About the Author

Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in 1948 in Zanzibar and teaches at the University of Kent. He is the author of the novels Memory of Departure, Pilgrims Way, Dottie, Paradise, Admiring Silence and By the Sea. His fourth novel, Paradise (1994) was shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prizes.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
'Paradise' is the coming of age story of Yusuf, a twelve-year old boy when the story opens in an East Africa on the brink of change with the Anglo-German conflict of the First World War looming. The young Yusuf is indentured to the rich trader Aziz, who Yusuf believes to be his uncle, in order to pay off his father's debts. As the story develops, Yusuf gets to experience being a part of the trading caravans that linked the diverse racial, ethnic and religious groups of the region during this bygone era. Against the background of a changing world, the maturing Yusuf must start to make some decisions on the direction of his own life....
'Paradise' contains a number of interesting characters: the good-natured banter between Sikh Harbans Singh (Kalasinga) and Muslim Hamid Suleiman is a real treat, as is the interaction between Yusuf and similarly indentured shopkeeper Khalil. Undoubtedly, the stand-out feature of 'Paradise' is Gurnah's beautiful poetic prose: every aspect of this novel was completely mesmerising from the first word to the last. 'Paradise' succeeds on many levels: as a coming of age story; commentary on slavery and colonialism; tale of travel and adventure in a past world; and story dealing with first-love and friendships. 'Paradise' was short-listed for the Booker back in '94 and richly deserves a continued wide readership. I hope to read more of Gurnah's work, and have bought Gurnah's critically acclaimed 'By the Sea' on the strength of my enchantment with 'Paradise'.
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Format: Paperback
A finalist in 1994 for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award, Paradise hides major themes and ideas within the seemingly simple story of Yusuf, a twelve-year-old boy in rural East Africa whose father sells him to a trader to settle a debt. East Africa is in turmoil-on the verge of World War I and the fighting which eventually develops between the Germans in Tanzania and the British in Kenya. Cities are growing, populations are moving, merchants are trading and selling, and colonialists from many countries are trying to impose their own cultures.
When Yusuf is sold to his "uncle" Aziz, he leaves his remote rural village in what is now Tanzania and joins a trading caravan, traveling to the highlands and eventually on an ill-fated trading safari to the remote interior, discovering whole new worlds as he goes. In eight years of travel, he "progresses" from the countryside to a coastal city, from simple subsistence to the complexities of urban, mercantile life, and from his childish pleasure with a shiny coin to an adult's need for love.
Yusuf, as a young child/adolescent, is an obvious symbol of Tanzania itself at this stage of its history. Just as Yusuf must come of age, so also must the country as the various groups contending for influence must make choices about how much they will accept, reject, or adapt to outside influences. As Yusuf comes into contact with tribal chieftains, Muslim traders, Indian shopkeepers, and German empire builders, the reader observes all contending for influence, within Yusuf and within the loose, artificial borders of Tanzania.
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I haven't finished reading this book, but so far this is definitely a five starrer. Gurnah has powerful descriptive qualities and his characters come to life. I'm looking for the key to unlock the secret of this story and am looking forward to continuing my read to the end.
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Format: Paperback
'Paradise' is the coming of age story of Yusuf, a twelve-year old boy when the story opens in an East Africa on the brink of change with the Anglo-German conflict of the First World War looming. The young Yusuf is indentured to the rich trader Aziz, who Yusuf believes to be his uncle, in order to pay off his father's debts. As the story develops, Yusuf gets to experience being a part of the trading caravans that linked the diverse racial, ethnic and religious groups of the region during this bygone era. Against the background of a changing world, the maturing Yusuf must start to make some decisions on the direction of his own life....
'Paradise' contains a number of interesting characters: the good-natured banter between Sikh Harbans Singh (Kalasinga) and Muslim Hamid Suleiman is a real treat, as is the interaction between Yusuf and similarly indentured shopkeeper Khalil. Undoubtedly, the stand-out feature of 'Paradise' is Gurnah's beautiful poetic prose: every aspect of this novel was completely mesmerising from the first word to the last. 'Paradise' succeeds on many levels: as a coming of age story; commentary on slavery and colonialism; tale of travel and adventure in a past world; and story dealing with first-love and friendships. 'Paradise' was short-listed for the Booker back in '94 and richly deserves a continued wide readership. I hope to read more of Gurnah's work, and have bought Gurnah's critically acclaimed 'By the Sea' on the strength of my enchantment with 'Paradise'.
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Format: Paperback
A nice coming of age story, but a little formulaic in my opinion, and fortunate upon the Booker prize favouritism towards exoticism and the post-colonial. I found this a good read, but a little tedious and plot-less in places. If you like Rushdie and the other 'exotic' Booker authors, you'll like this, but for me this just didn't really have enough 'bite' to make me want to re-read.
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