From the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, a powerful story of exile, migration, and betrayal.
Salim has always known that his father does not want him. Living with his parents and his adored Uncle Amir in a house full of secrets, he is a bookish child, a dreamer haunted by night terrors. It is the 1970s and Zanzibar is changing. Tourists arrive, the island's white sands obscuring the memory of recent conflict--the longed-for independence from British colonialism swiftly followed by bloody revolution. When his father moves out, retreating into disheveled introspection, Salim is confused and ashamed. His mother does not discuss the change, nor does she explain her absences with a strange man; silence is layered on silence.
When glamorous Uncle Amir, now a senior diplomat, offers Salim an escape, the lonely teenager travels to London for college. But nothing has prepared him for the biting cold and seething crowds of this hostile city. Struggling to find a foothold, and to understand the darkness at the heart of his family, he must face devastating truths about those closest to him--and about love, sex, and power. Evoking the immigrant experience with unsentimental precision and profound understanding, Gravel Heart is a powerfully affecting story of isolation, identity, belonging, and betrayal, and Abdulrazak Gurnah's most astonishing achievement.
About the Author
Abdulrazak Gurnah is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021. He is the author of ten 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, Gravel Heart, and Afterlives, which was 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.
“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
“The elegance and control of Gurnah's writing, and his understanding of how quietly and slowly and repeatedly a heart can break, make this a deeply rewarding novel.” —The Guardian
“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