Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club Presents: Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Afterlives

Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club Presents: Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Afterlives
Date: Tuesday 30 March

Time: 16:00 – 17:00 (GMT)
Location: Crowdcast
Tickets: FREE (suggested donations: £2 / £5 / £10)


With Abdulrazak Gurnah and Novuyo Rosa Tshuma.

“To read Afterlives is to be returned to the joy of storytelling.” – Aminatta Forna 

Taking up where his 1994 Booker finalist novel Paradise left off, Abdulrazak Gurnah transports his readers back to the First World War in his latest novel Afterlives. This coming-of-age novel follows the unanchored adolescent lives of Ilyas, Hamza and Afiya disrupted by the war in the early twentieth century, and interrogates the personal and political cost of rebellion.

Ilyas is stolen by the askari, a Swahili and Arabic name for the German colonial troops, Schutzruppe. Years later he returns home orphaned and his sister, Afiya, given away. Hamza is not stolen, but was sold and comes of age in the army. Ilyas and Hamza’s experience in the askari during the war form the nexus of Afterlives. Meanwhile a quiet and resilient romance buds between Hamza and Afiya.

Praised by Giles Foden as ‘one of Africa’s greatest living writers’, award-winning author Abdulrazak Gurnah will be in conversation with Novuyo Rosa Tshuma to discuss the power and essence of how compelling characters drive a story forward in Afterlives. We welcome you to join us even if you haven’t read the book! In fact we have an excerpt you can delve into beforehand, check it out right here.

This event is part of Africa Writes Exeter – Book Club which has previously hosted Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Maaza Mengiste.



About the Authors

Abdulrazak Gurnah is the author of ten novels: Memory of Departure, Pilgrims Way, Dottie, Paradise (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award), Admiring Silence, By the Sea (longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award), Desertion (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize) The Last Gift, Gravel Heart and Afterlives. He was Professor of English at the University of Kent, and was a Man Booker Prize judge in 2016. He lives in Canterbury.


Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is a 2020 Lannan Fiction Fellow and the author of the novel House of Stone, winner of a 2019 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award and the 2019 Bulawayo Arts Award for Outstanding Fiction, and listed for the 2019 Orwell Prize, the 2019 Dylan Thomas Prize, the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize, and the 2020 Balcones Fiction Prize. She has been invited to give public lectures about House of Stone at the University of Oxford, the Nordic Africa Institute, and Vassar College. She has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is Assistant Professor of Fiction at Emerson College.


About the event:

Presented in partnership with Saseni!, Authors.Cafe, Jalada Africa, Festival of Ideas, Prestige Bookshop, Libraries Unlimited and the University of Exeter.

This event is part of the Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club series which is being launched through Exeter’s UNESCO City of Literature Programme. More information on the Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club will be coming soon.


Image of Abdulrazak Gurnah by Mark Pringle.