Latif Mahmud sat leaning back, his gaunt face tight in a grimace of fortitude, his lips pressed together and widened into the beginning of a grotesque smile. The room was now in the lingering dusk of an English summer evening, a light which at first made me anxious and irresolute but which I was learning to tolerate. I was learning to resist drawing the curtains and flooding the room with light, just so as to expel the gloom of that slow leaden onset of night. I thought I should rise and make some more tea, put the light on in the kitchen, break the grip of the silence in which we had been sitting then for a few minutes. But as soon as I stirred, Latif Mahmud uncrossed his legs and leaned forward.
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Return to Book Page. Preview — By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah. By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah. With him he has a small bag in which there lies his most precious possession - a mahogany box containing incense. He used to own a furniture shop, have a house and be a husband and father, but now he is an asylum seeker from paradise; silence his only pr On a late November afternoon Saleh Omar arrives at Gatwick Airport from Zanzibar, a far away island in the Indian Ocean.
He used to own a furniture shop, have a house and be a husband and father, but now he is an asylum seeker from paradise; silence his only protection. Meanwhile, Latif Mahmud, someone intimately connected with Saleh's past, lives quietly alone in his London flat. When Saleh and Latif meet in an English seaside town, a story is unravelled.
It is a story of love, betrayal, of seduction and of possession, and of a people desperately trying to find stability amidst the maelstrom of their times. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Booker Prize Nominee for Longlist Other Editions 3.
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Every time I read the back cover, I think "I'd love to read that book" but whenever I pick it up, I struggle to get through more than a page or two. At what point did you change from feeling ambivalent to gripped? If at all! Spoilers don't bother me - please feel free to tell me anything that you think will make me want to keep reading this book!
For me it's a bit special, as I know the author in person, so I had that …more Hi Lindsay, I saw you asked a question on By the Sea, which I finished today. For me it's a bit special, as I know the author in person, so I had that connection in the first place. I know his academic work, which is also on postcolonial issue, Eastern Africa and the sea communities along that coast.
So those things drew me to the book initially. I was never "gripped", though I liked the ways in which the narrative alternates between two characters' stories, and how these stories bring up historical facts, personal stories of rivalry, travel and friendship, and contemporary issues e. I don't know if this answers your question, but please if you have any thoughts on this, do write back!
See 1 question about By the Sea…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of By the Sea. Aug 04, Calzean rated it really liked it Shelves: culture-england , author-zanzibar , culture-zanzibar. There were parts of this book that were like listening to a maestro story teller, then there were parts of great mundane detail.
Overall, a book that needs every word read. Saleh Omar is a 65 year old from Zanzibar. He arrives in England and seeks asylum. The book is narrated by him and Latif Mahmud, a younger man who's father played an integral role in Omar's life.
Early in the book Omar tells of his hatred Imperialism, he is bitter about the changes it made to his country and in the mess it left There were parts of this book that were like listening to a maestro story teller, then there were parts of great mundane detail.
Early in the book Omar tells of his hatred Imperialism, he is bitter about the changes it made to his country and in the mess it left when the English departed. These sections of the book did not become a theme but were one of the highlights to me. The rest of the book tells of life in Zanzibar, the pettiness and mindless attempts at greed and duplicity in dealing with a person's estate after they had died. View 1 comment. Feb 08, Cheryl rated it liked it Shelves: fiction , reads , africa , global-intrigue.
I recently read The Granta Book of the African Short Story , where the editor mentioned the overlooked influence Russian writers have over African writers. The prose and structural style of this novel made lucid that comment. Gurnah has written seven novels and I'm ashamed to say this is my first time reading his full-length work, even though I've read "Cages" a few times I look forward to reading Admiring Silence soon. There is a lot of sensory motion in this quietly paced novel of memory and r I recently read The Granta Book of the African Short Story , where the editor mentioned the overlooked influence Russian writers have over African writers.
There is a lot of sensory motion in this quietly paced novel of memory and regret. A man in his mid-sixties seeks asylum in the United Kingdom, after a life of turmoil with his neighbors in the Eastern region of Africa.
Once a former furniture store owner in his homeland, he sold exquisite pieces to Europeans, lived comfortably, married the love of his life and they had a child. One day he meets a Persian dealer and what seems like an exciting business venture turns into a cataclysmic turn of events for him.
This Persian dealer destroys a local family view spoiler [through an illicit affair and lousy trade deal hide spoiler ] and leaves the country.
The main character who uses a fake name in the UK is connected to the family destroyed and he faces the wrath of a corrupt government official who comes after him with vengeful force. With no one and nothing to live for in his home, the narrator flees and seeks asylum. His only request is that he live by the sea. I wanted to sit alone in the dark and count the bones in my head.
The story is a rumination, the style retrospective, prose mellifluous. As a reader, one sits in a house by the sea as the main character speaks. There is melancholy that makes him empathetic, but only if the reader is willing to stick to the somewhat superfluous narrative, wherein front story is often evaded by elongated backstory.
While in the UK, the main character encounters a son of the destroyed family; although the son has become a successful academic, he still has empty spaces that only the truth can fill. Both characters are forced to face the past together. I needed to be shriven of the burden of events and stories which I have never been able to tell, and which by telling would fulfill the craving I feel to be listened to with understanding.
What's fascinating is how this quiet story also thrums with undercurrents. Once upon a time colonial trade maps transformed the horn of Africa, affecting small towns along the coastline with their markups. After those countries gained independence, traders abruptly left, leaving towns by the sea in disarray, no longer trading "ghee and gum, cloths and crudely hammered trinkets, livestock and salted fish, dates, tobacco, perfume, rosewater, incense Post-colonial African countries dealt with the blows of freedom.
This novel, in a subtle way, through symbols, manages to expound upon that narrative. The novel also reminds me of a Banville novel, as Gurnah captures memory and flawed characters in the way Banville does.
View all 12 comments. Apr 19, Gumble's Yard rated it liked it. A book longlisted for the Booker Prize. The author writes about two emigrants from his home country of Zanzibar, both, like him, ending up in the UK. The two are the recently arrived and much older Saleh Omar. The two turn out to be intimately connected via a long running dispute between their families. Much of the book is Saleh telling Latif the real story of this feud; style is unusual as the story is told like a story rather than as narrative.
We also hear directly from A book longlisted for the Booker Prize. We also hear directly from Saleh and Latif of some of their own stories. These stories are very detailed - lots of characters involved and digressions which are hard for the reader to follow. The effect is somewhat like going to someone else' family, school or work reunion. The writing style is very elegant however but the difficult to follow or almost care about detail makes it a less engrossing read than it otherwise would be.
It reminded me a little of the effect of reading Proverbs in large chunks — almost too much to want to take in. View all 5 comments. Mar 22, Kenneth rated it really liked it.
Review: By the Sea
Dense, accomplished and sharply conceived, this novel by Anglo-African writer Gurnah Paradise ; Admiring Silence tells the story of year-old Saleh Omar, a merchant refugee from Zanzibar who applies for asylum in England. A present-day Sinbad, Omar is fleeing a land where the evil jinn are the larcenous rulers equipped with all the accoutrements of contemporary authoritarianism—concentration camps, rifles, kangaroo courts, etc. Upon arrival at Gatwick Airport, Omar presents an invalid visa, made out to his distant cousin and most hated enemy, Rajab Shaaban Mahmud. Advised not to demonstrate that he knows English, he puts on a charade of incomprehension for his caseworker, Rachel Howard, until uncomfortable circumstances force him to speak. Inevitably, the two men get together in a little seaside English town. Latif long ago cut off all relations with his Zanzibar family, having taken refuge in England in the '60s and gone on to become an English professor and poet, and a rather lonely single man. Saleh, he learns, has been pursued vindictively by Rajab and his wife, Asha, the mistress of a powerful minister.
BY THE SEA
Patrick Erouart-Siad. On the East Coat of Africa, monsoon winds carry boats out from the countries of the Persian Gulf and back from the ports of the Mozambique Canal. This is the "Land of Zanj," as the Muslim merchants call Zanzibar—in Arabic, "the country of the blacks. It is an old, old land, known at the beginning of the third millennium BC by the Pharaohs of Egypt and rediscovered by Greek sailors searching for the mysterious "Land of Punt," where abound gold, spices, ostrich feathers, and the ivory of fabulous wild beasts. It's a land where Bantu roots and Islam have intertwined since the tenth century. Even when the winds of history push them toward other, less hospitable shores—England, or the old, Marxist East Germany—Gurnah's characters are still the embodiment of mythic Zanzibar.
By the Sea
writers make worlds