Paradise

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’s novels] recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world. —Nobel Committee for Literature at the Swedish Academy

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award, Paradise was characterized by the Nobel Prize committee as Abdulrazak Gurnah’s “breakthrough” work. It is at once the chronicle 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 of a debt, twelve-year-old Yusuf is thrown from his simple rural life into complexities of pre-colonial urban East Africa. Through Yusuf’s eyes, Gurnah depicts communities at war, trading safaris gone awry, and the universal trials of adolescence. The result is what Publishers Weekly calls a “vibrant” and “powerful” work that “evokes the Edenic natural beauty of a continent on the verge of full-scale imperialist takeover.”

Praise

“Gurnah masterfully interweaves Yusuf’s story with the larger historical forces transforming the continent, all in a lush, seductive language that revels in its powers of storytelling.”
Los Angeles Times
“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
“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.”
The 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 (starred review)

News and Reviews

The New Press Congratulates Abdulrazak Gurnah on the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature

Abdulrazak Gurnah was announced by the Nobel Committee as this year’s winner of the esteemed international literature prize.

Goodreads Reviews