Feb 5: Gravel Heart by Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah
February 5, Saturday
12pm New York | 5pm London | 8pm Zanzibar City
Friendly guided discussion about Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature. As always, the author will join at the end of the session to chat with participants.
Discussion hosted by Meg Arenberg
b. Read the book before the meeting! (No one is checking if you've finished the book, but you will get the most out of the club and the chat with the author if you read ahead.)
*We have unusually high numbers for this book club and the free slots are sold out. If you can't pay the entry, just email us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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About the host
Meg Arenberg is a literature scholar and translator. She wrote about Abdulrazak Gurnah's Nobel Prize win in New Lines Magazine.
You can also listen here to her BookRising podcast interview with author Yvonne Adhiambo Owour celebrating Gurnah's Nobel.
About the book
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 one of Gurnah's most astonishing achievements.
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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.