From the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, a sweeping, multi-generational saga of displacement, loss, and love, set against the brutal colonization of east Africa.
When he was just a boy, Ilyas was stolen from his parents on the coast of east Africa by German colonial troops. After years away, fighting against his own people, he returns home to find his parents gone and his sister, Afiya, abandoned into de facto slavery. Hamza, too, returns home from the war, scarred in body and soul and with nothing but the clothes on his back--until he meets the beautiful, undaunted Afiya. As these young people live and work and fall in love, their fates knotted ever more tightly together, the shadow of a new war on another continent falls over them, threatening once again to carry them away.
Abdulrazak Gurnah is the 2021 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is the author of nine previous novels, including Paradise (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), By the Sea (longlisted for the Booker Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), and Desertion. Born and raised in Zanzibar, he is Professor Emeritus of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent; he lives in Canterbury, England.
Praise for Afterlives:
“Arresting . . . explores what is gained and what is lost in the name of survival.” –TIME
“A fascinating, necessary novel.” – Lit Hub
“Riveting. . . . Gurnah’s spare, unvarnished prose shines a harsh but honest light on the brutality of Africa’s colonial past. . . and through his rich main characters, the impact of colonialism and other key global events truly hits home. This profound account of empire and the everyman is not to be missed.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Breathtaking. . . . Gurnah constructs a remarkable portrait of tenderness, deep affection, and longing that stretches over time and across continents. . . . Absorbing, powerful, and enduring, Afterlives is an extraordinary reading experience by one of the great writers of our time.” –Booklist (starred review)
“Impeccably written. . . . building a complex, character-based story that stretches over generations.” –Kirkus (starred review)
“Riveting and heartbreaking. . . A compelling novel, one that gathers close all those who were meant to be forgotten, and refuses their erasure.” –Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King, in The Guardian
“A work of extraordinary power, giving us a colonial world with utmost intimacy, capturing its cruelties and complexities, immersing us in vividly evoked characters, showing us moments of incredible tenderness and beauty, and quietly reordering our sense of history.” –Phil Klay, author of Redeployment and Missionaries
“Rarely in a lifetime can you open a book and find that reading it encapsulates the enchanting qualities of a love affair … One scarcely dares breathe while reading it for fear of breaking the enchantment.” –The Times (London)
“To read Afterlives is to be returned to the joy of storytelling as Gurnah takes us to the place where imagined lives collide with history.” –Aminatta Forna, author of Happiness