57 pages 1 hour read

Abdulrazak Gurnah


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2020

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Part 1, Chapters 1-2

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

Content Warning: These Summaries & Analyses refer to the atrocities of war, unprovoked violence committed by military groups, miscarriages, and child abuse, which are described in the novel. 

Khalifa is the son of Qassim, an Indian expatriate and an African mother. Since Qassim can read and write and wants his son to have the opportunity to achieve as well, he teaches him to read and eventually sends him to a tutor. Khalifa’s lessons with the tutor correspond with the arrival of German troops occupying Tanzania and the brutal suppression of numerous uprisings. This is near the end of the time when European nations colonized Africa.

Khalifa goes to work for a private bank owned by two brothers in Tanga on the seacoast. African-owned banks work with small merchants and individuals, since the larger banks want only large businesses and international accounts. Khalifa remains with them 11 years until he is hired by Amur Biashara, an unscrupulous merchant. The merchant favors Khalifa because he is obedient, discreet, and shares local gossip. When Amur first approaches him, Khalifa gives him inside information, for which Amur pays him a bribe. When he recognizes Khalifa’s capabilities and willingness, he hires him.

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By Abdulrazak Gurnah

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Abdulrazak Gurnah


Abdulrazak Gurnah