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The Last Gift

by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Everyone wants to know about their family origins and we often leave it too late. Abbas has never told his family about his early life and he has a secret. When he suffers a stroke he gradually tells his wife about how he came to live in England from Zanzibar and shocks his family with his story. Compulsive and moving reading.

Extract

She wants me to speak, she tells me it will do me good. She says I should speak so the children will know the things I have not told them. She says they are afraid of my secrets. I tell her that parents always have secrets from their children, don't they? How did they know I had secrets for them to be afraid of? My father grew up poor as a child but when I knew him he was hard and frightening, a small tireless man who always gave orders. I don't think I cared what he was not telling me about his life. Even if I did care, I would not have known how to ask him to tell me anything. Even if I did care, and even if I did ask, he would not have told me anything just because I cared. I never heard my mother speak about her childhood or her past .... Everyone has stories.

Parallels

By the Sea by Abduldrazak Gurnah
 

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