Abdulrazak Gurnah: Desertion

(1751 words)

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s seventh novel Desertion explores questions of loyalty, constancy, courage and simple human kindness, woven around tropes of loss and abandonment. Part I of the novel opens with the sensational arrival of the mzungu (southern, central and eastern African term for “person of foreign descent”), Martin Pearce, in a small East African town in 1899, having been abandoned by his Somali guides on the way to the coast. Fate has it that he is found by a dukawallah (a shopkeeper in Kenya and some other parts of eastern Africa), Hassanali, who takes him in as common humanity and the tenets of Islam require. Pearce turns out to be an amateur historian and linguist, w…

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Citation:
Hand, Felicity. "Desertion". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 June 2011
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=19205, accessed 23 October 2014.]