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The Last Gift: A Novel

Gurnah, Abdulrazak S (2012) The Last Gift: A Novel. Bloomsbury, London / New Delhi / New York / Sydney, 288 pp. ISBN 978-1-4088-2185-5. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:40591)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.


One day, long before the troubles, he slipped away without saying a word to anyone and never went back. And then another day, forty three years later, he collapsed just inside the front door of his house in a small English town. It was late in the day when it happened, on his way home after work, but it was also late in the day altogether. He had left things for too long and there was no one to blame for it but himself. Abbas has never told anyone about his past - before he was a sailor on the high seas, before he met his wife Maryam outside a Boots in Exeter, before they settled into a quiet life in Norwich with their children, Jamal and Hanna. Now, at the age of sixty-three, he suffers a collapse that renders him bedbound and unable to speak about things he thought he would one day have to. Jamal and Hanna have grown up and gone out into the world. They were both born in England but cannot shake a sense of apartness. Hanna calls herself Anna now, and has just moved to a new city to be near her boyfriend. She feels the relationship is headed somewhere serious, but the words have not yet been spoken out loud. Jamal, the listener of the family, moves into a student house and is captivated by a young woman with dark-blue eyes and her own, complex story to tell. Abbas's illness forces both children home, to the dark silences of their father and the fretful capability of their mother Maryam, who began life as a foundling and has never thought to find herself, until now.

Item Type: Book
Additional information: In July 2005, a group of Muslim young men carried out suicide bombing attacks in London. Several of them had a secular upbringing, perhaps intended to help them integrate into British society. They saw this as a deprivation of knowledge and affiliation they had a right to and which as adults they actively sought. What their parents had done as an act of solicitude turned into the impulse for violent outrage against British acts in the Muslim world. The Last Gift addresses this generational impasse by way of the story of a father who disappeared before his son’s birth. Apart from dramatising a multi-generational account of the experience of dislocation and social marginalisation, the novel investigates the corrosive power of untold stories, of family secrets. The father’s last gift to his children is to tell the story of his desertion of his first family. The novel is grounded in research on migrant dislocations, a subject in which Gurnah is an expert in so far as it concerns migrant narratives. As a way of investigating the migrant failure to achieve a sense of belonging, the mother figure is constructed as a foundling, and the novel draws on research concerning the law regarding foundlings, adoption and fostering practices in the 1950s, and the social realities the people in the novel would have had to live with.;
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Stewart Brownrigg
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 00:05 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:15 UTC
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