Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple.

This week’s book:

Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Blurb from Goodreads

Paradise is at once the story of an African boy’s coming of age, a tragic love story, and a tale of the corruption of traditional African patterns by European colonialism. It presents a major African voice to American readers – a voice that prompted Peter Tinniswood to write in the London Times, reviewing Gurnah’s previous novel, “Mr. Gurnah is a very fine writer. I am certain he will become a great one.” Paradise is Abdulrazak Gurnah’s great novel. At twelve, Yusuf, the protagonist of this twentieth-century odyssey, is sold by his father in repayment of a debt. From the simple life of rural Africa, Yusuf is thrown into the complexities of precolonial urban East Africa – a fascinating world in which Muslim black Africans, Christian missionaries, and Indians from the subcontinent coexist in a fragile, subtle social hierarchy. Through the eyes of Yusuf, Gurnah depicts communities at war, trading safaris gone awry, and the universal trials of adolescence. Then, just as Yusuf begins to comprehend the choices required of him, he and everyone around him must adjust to the new reality of European colonialism. The result is a page-turning saga that covers the same territory as the novels of Isak Dinesen and William Boyd, but does so from a perspective never before available on that seldom-chronicled part of the world.

Why I Want To Read It

Happy first day of the week everyone! With the advent of a new week, I hope you all had a great weekend despite the challenging and uncertain times we are living in. Yesterday, we commemorated the World Mental Health Day. With this, I hope everyone is doing well mentally. I realize that the pandemic and the lockdowns have adversely affected many of us. For instance, one of my friends have been traveling lately to seek peace; being cooped up for months does take a toll on one’s mental health. I hope that everyone is taking of themselves, both in body and in mind. I am fervently praying for this pandemic to end so that we can resume our normal lives.

With Monday comes another Goodreads Monday update. After featuring books nominated for the 2021 Booker Prize, I will be featuring books that I have just added to my (perpetually growing) reading list. One of the more recent additions to my reading list is Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Paradise (1994). I am not going to deny the fact that prior to this year, I have never heard of Gurnah nor have I encountered any of his works. Had it not been for the Nobel Prize in Literature, I might not have even considered his works. Over the past few years, I have grown enamored with the Nobel Literary Prize despite the controversies.

Like the previous two years, I tuned in for the awarding, even reading articles weighing in on the award. Gurnah was partly an unexpected choice. He was not even considered by some literary gambles (bookies’ odds) and he has flown under the radar of many literary pundits. He was chosen over established names such as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, and Maryse Condé, basically the proverbial bridesmaids. This comes as no surprise, I guess, for the Nobel committee has been avoiding “popular” or mainstream writers. In its citation, the Nobel committee has chosen Gurnah for the award “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”

One of his works was mentioned during the award-winning ceremony, Paradise, and it was the primary reason why I have added it to my reading list. Gurnah’s fourth novel, it was often cited as his literary breakthrough and its mention in the citation speech was no surprise. However, I am not limiting myself to Paradise. If I do encounter any of his 10 novels, I wouldn’t hesitate giving it a try. This is the same case with Peter Handke (2019) and Olga Tokarczuk (2018); the first books I came across I bought without any more ado.

And that’s it for my Goodreads Monday update. How about you fellow reader? What is the latest addition to your reading list? I hope you could share your answers in the comment box. For now, have a happy Monday and a great week ahead!