From the Nobel Prize winner, a coming-of-age story that illuminates the harshness and beauty of an Africa on the brink of colonization

“Gurnah has crafted a wonderful story out of the real stuff of precolonial Africa—mud and dust and spices and ivory and gun powder—in this memorable American debut.” —Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

A finalist for the 1994 Booker Prize, England’s highest honor for works of fiction, Paradise is at once the story of an African boy’s coming-of-age, a tragic love story, and a tale of the corruption of African tradition by European colonialism.

Sold by his father in repayment a debt, twelve-year-old Yusuf is thrown from his simple rural life into complexities of pre-colonial urban East Africa. Through Yusuf’s eye, Gurnah depicts communities at war, trading safaris gone awry, and the universal trials of adolescence. The result is a page-turning saga the offers a unique perspective on a seldom-chronicled part of the world.


“An evocative portrait of Africa on the brink of change. . . . A poignant meditation on the nature of freedom and the loss of innocence, for both a single sensitive boy and an entire continent.”
New York Times Book Review
“A fascinating coming-of-age story and an indictment of the European colonization of Africa, with side ventures into African social and religious dynamics . . . warmly recommended.”
Library Journal
“Vibrant. . . . Powerful. . . . Evokes the Edenic natural beauty of a continent on the verge of full-scale imperialist takeover by the European powers. . . . Gurnah conjures a cauldron of animosities among African Muslims, Indian merchants, European farmers, and native tribes.”
Publishers Weekly

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