Nobel Prize winner for literature this year, Abdulrazak Gurnah has written a novel that bears no resemblance to its title. Paradise is the story of Yusuf, a handsome young boy who is given to the merchant Aziz until Yusuf’s father can pay back the debt to the merchant. While living with Aziz in East Africa, Yusuf encounters tribal wars, greedy savages and German soldiers methodically taking over his country.
Paradise is not an easy read. Gurnah describes colonial East Africa as brutal, ugly and sinister, and Yusuf at the beginning of the novel as beautiful, innocent and pure. His gradual change as a result of what he sees all around him, helps the reader understand why the author left Zanzibar for London.