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Afterlives

By: Abdulrazak Gurnah
Narrated by: Damian Lynch
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Summary

Bloomsbury presents Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah, read by Damian Lynch.

Restless, ambitious Ilyas was stolen from his parents by the Schutzruppe askari, the German colonial troops; after years away, he returns to his village to find his parents gone and his sister, Afiya, given away. 

Hamza was not stolen but was sold; he has come of age in the army, at the right hand of an officer whose control has ensured his protection but marked him for life. Hamza does not have words for how the war ended for him. Returning to the town of his childhood, all he wants is work, however humble, and security - and the beautiful Afiya.

The century is young. The Germans and the British and the French and the Belgians and whoever else have drawn their maps and signed their treaties and divided up Africa. As they seek complete dominion they are forced to extinguish revolt after revolt by the colonised. The conflict in Europe opens another arena in East Africa where a brutal war devastates the landscape. 

As these interlinked friends and survivors come and go, live and work and fall in love, the shadow of a new war lengthens and darkens, ready to snatch them up and carry them away.

©2020 Abdulrazak Gurnah (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic reviews

"One of Africa's greatest living writers." (Giles Foden) 

"Exquisite." (Telegraph

"A remarkable novel, by a wondrous writer, deeply compelling, a thread that links our humanity with the colonial legacy that lies beneath, in ways that cut deep." (Philippe Sands) 

What listeners say about Afterlives

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great new learning and a great story

I learnt so much new about German colonial activities in East Africa. This was delivered by a captivating story about the lives of those living through those realities. The characters were well described and easy to identify with. I found myself really eager to discover what happened to Elyas. The descriptions of the towns, buildings, streets and food made the environment easy to visualise.

2 people found this helpful

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Lynch a great reader of this book

The actor here, Damian Lynch, has performed Shakespeare in German in Germany, so is well able to handle the short passages of German that give an authentic flavour to the setting in German East Africa in the book. He is a perfect choice for the novel.

A great introduction to the work of the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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Interesting mix between reality and fiction

Couldn't stop listening to it. Well written and a really interesting story/stories. I wish it didn't finish so quickly

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Left me wanting more, literally

I enjoyed this book, I'm looking forward to coming back to it when the author writes the ending.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-09-22

Excellent, thought-provoking read

An excellent, thought-provoking read on the confluence of colonization, socialization, nurture, nature and humanity in the different characters individually and as a collective.

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  • Delphine
  • 21-05-22

Extraordinary text

Wonderful text about the former German colonies in Africa from WWI to the post WWII period

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  • Adayam mirsky
  • 01-01-22

Compelling story.

Impossible to stop listening. Thé life in the German occupation East African is unfamiliar and doesn’t feature in western culture. But it’s told in an amazing way by Gurnah.
The reading is very good.
No wonder the writer was awarded the Nobel price.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ando
  • 25-11-21

A Very Human Story

This was an interesting book and mirrors to a significant extent the feelings of powerlessness we experience living under colonial rule. Decisions made elsewhere influenced how we perceived the world and the fates we endured.

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  • JanitaH
  • 17-10-21

Enjoyed the history, but the writing dissapointed

Fascinating history, but the narrative meanders to an abrupt end and the writing is average.