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Category Archive for 'Tanzania'

Illustrating, to some extent, the effects of colonialism, along with desertions and displacements in the characters’ lives in this three-part novel covering more than fifty years in Zanzibar/Tanzania, Gurnah concentrates primarily on stories of family, courtship, and relationships–ordinary people living their daily lives. Though the novel feels like three separate novellas, rather than a continuous whole, Gurnah’s style is smooth and descriptive, conjuring the moods and images of different times and fascinating places.

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The book begins as a leisurely portrait of two lonely immigrants to England from Zanzibar, one of them a distinguished young professor and the other a 65-year-old asylum seeker who has just arrived, pretending he understands no English. As the points of view shift back and forth between the two men in succeeding sections of the novel, we come to know each man well–his life, his aspirations in Zanzibar, his extended family, the family’s business connections there, and ultimately, the how and why of each man’s emigration to England. Coming from two different generations, each man has a different view of his former country, the older man having spent most of his life there, escaping to England when all other hope is gone, and the younger having left as a young student, but still longing for the connections he left behind. This is passionate book of clear vision, a book which recognizes harsh truths and still remains compassionate.

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The author raises more questions than he answers. James Stephenson’s memoir about the Hadzabe in Tanzania, one of the last tribes of hunter-gatherers, is fascinating, though not always in ways the author probably intended. As much about the 27-year-old author and the casual romanticism with which he plunges into life in another culture as it […]

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