As a successor to his Booker-nominated novel, Paradise, Abdulrazak Gurnah's fifth book, Admiring Silence, presents the despair of being torn from one's roots. Gurnah's unnamed narrator flees to England as a teenager to escape the violent political rule of his native island in Zanzibar. There he lives for nearly twenty years in suburban comfort with an Englishwoman and holds a respectable position teaching at a university. Despite his apparent success, as an immigrant he is caught in cultural limbo, always feeling marginal in British society. The tales he weaves for his English lover and her family of an idyllic past in Africa console him temporarily, but when sanctions are lifted the narrator chooses to leave the family he created in England and return to Zanzibar. What he finds there destroys the image of the childhood paradise he had preserved in his heart-now he can never return home.
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Published January 1, 1996
Literature & Fiction.