Desertion

Desertion

Early one morning in 1899, during Britain's embrace of the White man's Burden, in a small town on the east cost of Africa, Hassanali sets...

Author : Abdulrazak Gurnah

Genre :African Fiction

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Early one morning in 1899, during Britain's embrace of the White man's Burden, in a small town on the east cost of Africa, Hassanali sets out for his observances at the mosque, but he never gets there. Out of the desert stumbles an Englishman who collapses at his feet. The man is Martin Pearce--writer, traveler, Orientalist--and Hassanali cares for him until he is taken to the home of a colonial officer to recuperate. Later, visiting Hassanali to thank him for his rescue, Pearce meets and is enraptured by Hassanali's sister, Rehana. So beings a passionate and illicit love affair that brings two cultures together: a love affair that will reverberate through three generations and across continents, its consequences surfacing in Zanzibar in the early 1950s, when, as the country moves inexorably toward independence--and revolution--Rehana's granddaughter is caught up in another forbidden affair. Desertion is at once concerned with the political and personal scandals of empire; the weight of tradition--of religion and culture--in quotidian lives; the role of women in Muslim society; the vicissitudes of love and the inexorability of miscegenation. It is a spellbinding, masterfully conceived, profoundly affecting work of fiction, and it should certainly bring Abdulrazak Gurnah the wider attention he deserves.