It all opens with a questionable deal.
He is twelve years old, and Yusef is literally sold to a wealthy Arab merchant, to whom his father owes money.
We are in the territory of present-day Tanzania, at the beginning of the last century – Probably at the beginning of World War I.
Western colonial powers have not yet taken control. When Yusuf began his youth as a handyman in shops, the country was still a melting pot of a large element of Arabs and Indians. – Yes, even the Greek merchants.
It is as if the gaze needs time to be able to focus on the world of yesteryear that Gouma slowly but surely conjures. Perhaps there is also something in the language of the translator Kjell and Kari Risvik. Doesn’t it all sound old-fashioned? Gildendale Publishing shouldn’t bother with an entirely new translation now that the book has come out in beautiful new packaging in Norwegian. After Gourna won the Nobel Prize?
But as the curry boils in the merchant’s pots, the pod tightens its grip.
In one of the novel’s most costly scenes, Yusuf ends up in the crossfire between Indian Buddhist Kalasinga and Muslim Hamid, who squabble until busts fly over which of the two world religions is better.
You can simply feel that it is she has that happens. On the east coast of Africa, ancient and proud African tribal cultures, eastern merchants, and Dr. Livingston’s western species fight for dominance.
The Arab merchant, Aziz Sharir, is one of the highest ranked. He is friendly, demure and strong, but also a man whom time almost escaped. Stalked-type caravanserais – tympani and horns – are out of fashion.
The new world order, defined by the muzzles of German soldiers, removed the old trading traditions.
Searching for the utopia
We see all this with the eyes of the boy Youssef. In his innocence and beauty, he is the embodiment of lost heaven – heaven all concerned actors really dream of making room for somewhere in the forest.
The pursuit of this utopia we previously saw portrayed by authors such as Stefan Zweig, Joseph Konrad, and Christian Kracht (in Roman Empire), in the film Fitzcarraldo with Klaus Kinski in the main role – not least in Italian, Hugo Pratts painted stories about sailor Corto Maltese.
But unlike the aforementioned men, this year’s Nobel Laureate pushes the horizons, pauses at the beauty of the landscape, and evokes the landscapes of his childhood with a twinkle in his eye.
And inland on the mainland, we are making increasingly desperate expeditions inland. Youssef is on a formation journey in an unsafe area and must keep away from both adult insects of both sexes and bloodthirsty mosquitoes.
Even the rather arrogant translation of the couple Kjell and Kari Risvik suddenly appears as an apt match for the Gurnahs. Ocean And the hot literary world. When “heaven” quickly appears for the first time, there’s nothing better for me to do than keep up with the journey.
“Paradise” is one of the year’s most exciting novels.
All comments and recommendations from NRK can be found at nrk.no/anmeldelser.
Further reading is recommended:
“Infuriatingly humble web fan. Writer. Alcohol geek. Passionate explorer. Evil problem solver. Incurable zombie expert.”