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New York. 1988. Grove Press. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. 159 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration and design by Bascove. 0802110185. keywords: Literature Black Africa East Africa. inventory # 9791. FROM THE PUBLISHER-Adbulrazak Gurnah takes us deep inside the human heart of darkness in this bitterly lyrical first novel about a boy's coming of age in coastal East Africa. Hassan Omar lives with his family in a squalid seaport called Kenge, ‘where the toilers and failures lived, where wizened prostitutes and painted homosexuals traded, where drunk came for cheap tende, where anonymous voices howled with pain in the streets at night. ' With unflinching eye and quaking heart, Hassan beholds a ceaseless daily round of poverty, cruelty, and degradation. He stands by helplessly as his careworn mother is brutalized by his perpetually drunk, depraved father. He watches his ne'er –do-well older brother die a freakish, excruciating, and utterly pointless death. He despairs over his younger sister's defiant, flagrant promiscuity. He sees his nation's newly won independence and the hopes of his generation squandered by venal leaders. Release of sorts comes to Hassan in the form of a reluctant summons from his rich uncle in Nairobi. In a classic story of spiritual triumph, he leaves Kenge to discover a larger world that contains, along with its share of more refined cruelty, the possibility of beauty and of love. Through Adbulrazak Gurnah's extraordinary narrative gifts, we experience along with Hassan every step of his odyssey through an Africa we have not seen before, the new black Africa dragging its torturous legacy of slavery and colonialism into the uncertain era of independence. We live with him a life unimaginable to most of us. We breathe and touch the squalor of his surroundings, we share his sense of being trapped, we wince at the painful comedy of his first encounter with sophistication, we feel the first urgent stirrings of hope, and when we are done, we too bear the soul-searing memory of departure.
Near Fine in Very Good jacket. Fiction. 8vo-over 7¾"-9¾" tall. This book is in near fine condition and has not been read. The dust jacket is in very good condition, is not price clipped, and is in new mylar.
Publishers Weekly, 1988-01-29 This haunting coming-of-age novel evokes in spare but vivid prose the exotic sights, sounds and landscapes of coastal East Africa and the spiritual rebirth of a sensitive 15-year-old. Living with his family in a poverty-stricken seaport village, the hero, Hassan Omar, is surrounded by a self-perpetuating cycle of violence and despair. His own sense of hopelessness is nurtured by the stunted lives around him: his drunken, tyrannical, libertine father; a sister, who escapes the blind-alley of their lives into headlong promiscuity; a dissolute older brother, who succumbs to the squalor and eventually dies in a freakish accident; and finally, his mother, who has fatalistically resigned herself to being brutalized by her husband. Eventually, Hassan leaves his family to stay with an uncle in Nairobi, and there he discovers a larger world, which contains its share of cruelty as well but also hope and redemptiona way out of his old life and his immobilizing self-hatred. Hassan's rite of passage eventually comes to stand for something larger, although Gurnah, who was born in Tanzania and now teaches in an English university, merely suggests this message: the hero's aspirations and dilemmas reflect the struggles of Third World Africa to shed its colonial skin, with its tradition of poverty and oppression, and to construct a new identity for itself. This is a short book, but dense, often hair-raising in its dramatic scenes of degradation and compelling in its rendering of Hassan's evolving consciousness. (March)
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