261pp., paperback, London, (2017) 2018
Abdulrazak Gurnah is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021.
"The measured elegance of Gurnah's prose renders his protagonist in a manner almost uncannily real . . . Gurnah's portrayal of student immigrant life in Britain is pleasingly deliberate and precise, and also riveting . . . Even the minor characters in this novel have richly imagined histories that inflect their smallest interactions--one of the loveliest pleasures of this book, and a choice that makes its world exceptionally full." New York Times Book Review
"In the final, powerful section of Gravel Heart ... the narrator Salim travels to Zanzibar to visit his mother’s grave and finally learn from his father what it was that destroyed their family many years previously. Salim has been living in England, studying literature, while his father has recently resumed life as a hermit in the back of a shop after several years in Kuala Lumpur. In a moving passage, Gurnah uses their conversation to highlight how disorientating it was for both the father and son to grow up bookish in Tanzania when most books represented a culture that vilified Muslims and Africans" Tadzio Koelb, Times Literary Supplement
"What sets Gravel Heart apart from the many other books on the immigrant experience are Gurnah's deeper themes ... Gravel Heart is much more than the story of a boy trying to uncover his family's secret. Ultimately, it's a story about trying find one's place in the world--and that's something we can all to relate to." Washington Independent Review of Books
Abdulrazak Gurnah is the author of the novels Memory of Departure, Pilgrims Way, Dottie, Paradise (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award), Admiring Silence, By the Sea (longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award), Desertion (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize) The Last Gift and Afterlives (shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Fiction 2021 and longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize). He was Professor of English at the University of Kent, and was a Man Booker Prize judge in 2016. He lives in Canterbury.