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Литература / Re: Знакомимся с новым лауреатом
« Последний ответ от н 08.10.2021, 15:15:08 »
 Андерс Олссон, Председатель Нобелевского комитета, о новом лауреате Абдулразаке  Гурнахе.
Литература / Re: Знакомимся с новым лауреатом
« Последний ответ от bibliographer 08.10.2021, 00:40:38 »
The Stateless Person’s Tale
You ask how long I have been here. This is now my twelfth year, and sometimes I have to count more than once to be sure I have the right number. It is so long. I have been coming and going between the Home Office and one office after another in all that time. When I say Home Office, I don’t mean I go there or meet anyone, I just receive letters. Do this, do that, otherwise. They don’t like it if you don’t cooperate, let alone if you dare to disobey. Everyone knows that behind the letters there is a list of threats, withdrawal of privileges, detention, deportation.
That is what they are waiting to do, to deport me. They have been wanting to do that for the last nine years, ever since my arrest in 2009. I was sentenced to over a year in prison which meant I was liable for automatic deportation upon release. The courts do that deliberately, give sentences of just over a year to make it possible for the Home Office to deport us if they can. The reason they do not always succeed is because there are laws and there are lawyers with good hearts who stop them, or at least delay them. Also they cannot deport me unless the country they intend to send me to is safe for me and is willing to accept me. As you know, my country is G___ and I fled from there because my life was in danger, but the Home Office say that it’s not so dangerous any more, and I can return safely. I don’t think so. Whatever they say, G___ will not accept me because I have no papers to prove that I am from G___.
I have applied to be recognised as a stateless person. If I was stateless, then I would have residence, I could work and contribute to the country, and after a length of time even apply for citizenship. But even that is confused. Although the law required me to apply to be recognised as stateless, the Home Office keep sending me back to the embassy for travel documents so they can deport me. I have been to the embassy three times now and each time they turn me away because I have no documents that prove my nationality. The woman there laughed at me this last time. ‘You’re still here,’ she said. ‘The Home Office are wasting your time sending you to us. How many times have you come to us? The answer will always be the same until you come with papers to show you are from G___.’
I have no choice but to go to the embassy when the Home Office ask me to, otherwise they will say I am not cooperating, and they will put me in detention. I am liable for detention at any time, that is my status. I don’t want to complain. They tell me to go, I go.
Why do I not have papers? I am laughing at my ignorance and because of my bad luck.
When I was in G___, and in hiding from those people who wanted to kill me because of my Christian work against cutting women, there was an English man who helped me, Bernard. He worked for the Christian NGO which employed me. He knew that my life was in danger because the people who were looking for me came to the office several times to ask for me. I was desperate to get away, and it was my English friend Bernard who advised me to come here. He took my passport from me and a week later he gave it back with a visa stamped in it. I asked him how he did that as usually it is very difficult to get a visa: you have to attend an interview, pay a lot of money and send the passport to another country for authorisation and it all takes a long time. He said don’t ask, so I didn’t. Somehow friends and relatives helped me raise the fare, and my English friend Bernard and I travelled together to London.
I was so grateful to him for everything he had done for me, and for also accompanying me. I had not travelled to Europe before and it was reassuring to have him sitting beside me. The airport officials asked me some questions and I answered as well as I could without really understanding why they were asking those questions. I must have given the right answers because they let me in as a visitor. When we were through the gate and in that crowd of arrivers in the terminal, my English friend Bernard asked for my passport. He said it was safer for him to keep it and that I was to go to the Home Office and say I have come for asylum. I gave him my passport and he gave me a piece of paper with the address: Home Office, Lunar House, 1st Floor, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon CR9 2BY. In a moment he was gone, and I have not seen him since.
I don’t know why I gave my passport away so easily. I trusted him because he had helped me so much already. I don’t know why he took my passport. Perhaps it was out of good intentions, to help me. Or perhaps it was to protect himself, because I don’t know how he obtained the visa for me, but it was probably not done in the proper way. Perhaps it was to protect whoever had helped him. It was soon after he disappeared into the crowd that I realised that I did not know how to find him again. I realised that I did not have any money, and that it was a weekend day and the Home Office in Croydon would not open until Monday morning. Even then, I had no idea of the long journey I was about to embark upon. As the office was closed, a security guard gave me the address of a place I could stay overnight. Then the following day I went back to Croydon where I was questioned and interviewed and sent to temporary accommodation. It took me several weeks to understand that the officials did not like me, that they intended to get rid of me if they could, that perhaps they did not believe my life was in danger in G___. They turned down my application to stay and the refugee advisers told me to appeal. I was turned down again and appealed again. It took months between application and rejection and appeal. By this time, I was living in Glasgow and was becoming slowly defeated by my idleness. I had to stay at the address I was allocated. I had no money, just a card for my basic necessities. I could not travel and worst of all, I could not work to earn a little extra for myself and to keep my mind and body healthy.
Yes, it was looking for work that led to my arrest. I went to register for work using false documents. I used false documents because I have no documents to prove my nationality. The papers belonged to someone who was in the same congregation as me in Glasgow. He had permission to stay and could take a job, but urgent family affairs meant he had to go back home. His family were going to lose their land if he was not there to contest. If he went back to his home country, he would lose his refugee status and would not be able to return, but he had no choice. I borrowed his papers and went to register for work at an Agency. I don’t know how the agency worker knew that the documents were not mine. He did not give any sign or challenge me. He asked me questions about myself and what work experience I had and what work I was looking for. Then he said he had to go and fetch a form or something like that and would be right back.
The police turned up within minutes, two cars with four men who were happy in their work. They took me away and locked me up, and the next morning I was in court. They were in such a hurry to get everything over with that they did not allow me to call anyone or speak to a lawyer. I was not charged with attempting to register myself for work as someone else, but for being illegally in employment. I don’t know why. Maybe it made their case stronger. There was no evidence, no discussion, no defence. It was all over within minutes and I was sentenced to fourteen months in prison, and liable for deportation on release. I was sent to prison; no, I don’t want to talk about that. I was given early release after a few months, and was sent to the Dungavel Detention Centre in Strathaven. It is where they hold people waiting to be deported. From Dungavel, I was sent to another Immigration Removal Centre and after several months there I was sent to S___ where I still live now, back to the round of application, rejection, appeal. I have been living in that house so long now that I feel in charge of the others who come and go. I make sure everyone does their share of cleaning and clearing up. No one makes a fuss. There are two men from Eritrea, just boys really, a man from Ivory Coast and a Russian. Yes, a white man… Russian, not a Chechen or a Tartar or one of those other kinds of Russians. Sometimes I think he must wonder what he has done to be put among an African rabble like us.
When the police arrested me and the court sentenced me in such haste, there was no time for me to collect any of my belongings or my documents. I asked about my papers and I was told there was nothing there. Everything was cleared out after my arrest, the photograph of my wife and children, my school certificate, my birth certificate, my address book. They must have thrown them all in the bin. So when the Home Office advised me to go to the embassy to get travel papers so they could deport me, and even paid my fare to London, I had no papers of any kind to prove I was from G___. As you know, this did not stop them from sending me again, and again. Perhaps they did not think I was trying hard enough, or perhaps there is no thinking behind it, just a machine which is programmed to be cruel.
I have been here now for twelve years as I told you. I am still not allowed to work. I help at my church and volunteer for an organisation that visits and counsels hostel dwellers. Many of them are alcoholics or ex-offenders. I was given eighteen weeks training for this work, so I am a qualified counsellor. I registered for an Access course, but I couldn’t get a student loan because of my status. I also did an Adult Social Care course which a refugee organisation paid for. I do what I can to try and stay sane, but it is hard when I have so much time on my hands and so many sad memories of my children who are so far away and have grown up now. I am 59 years old and I feel the time going away from me. I have constant headaches, high blood pressure and just recently I was diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor said I am depressed and prescribed me medication for it. I said I don’t need medication for depression or stress, I want my freedom. Many days I don’t even go out.
I know that my only chance now is to be reclassified as a Stateless Person, to have an opportunity to start again, but I have been waiting for years for a decision on that. My last application was a year ago, as a result of which I was sent once again to the embassy where I was told what I was told before. No papers, no G___ travel papers. I don’t want to go to G___. My life will be in danger there. I need to be reclassified as a Stateless person so I can have the right to work and contribute something to this country.
Why is the Home Office so wicked? Is this what the English people want them to be like? They can’t all be wicked like this. Many of them have been so good. Perhaps after all this time someone in the Home Office will say let us end this poor African man’s torment and let him work. What have I done that they are treating me like this? If they turn me down this time, I’ll pack my bag and go to the Home Office and tell them to send me where they want, even if it is only to dump me in the middle of the ocean.
Литература / Re: Знакомимся с новым лауреатом
« Последний ответ от bibliographer 07.10.2021, 23:25:31 »
My Mother Lived on a Farm in Africa, (2006) a short story by Abdulrazak Gurnah

`My mother lived on a farm in Africa,' she heard her daughter Khadija say. She preferred to be called Kadi, especially in front of her friends, and Munah tried her best to remember. She and her friends, the usual two, Clare and Amy, had been watching Out of Africa on the video that afternoon. They did that most Sunday afternoons, took turns to go to each other's houses to watch videos. It was video in their house anyway, DVD in the others.
Then when the film finished, and in the brief silence that some¬times follows the end of a story, Kadi said that. It was an echo of the film's repeated dirge, I had a farm in Africa, spoken like a hoarse lament over the landscape, to make Karen Blixen into a tragedy. Lost love, lost farm, lost paradise, the Fall. Then Kadi said that: My mother lived on a farm in Africa.
Munah wanted to rush in there and tell them that it wasn't like that. It was nothing like that. But she heard someone snigger just a second after Kadi spoke, and that made her hesitate and retreat. It was Amy, she thought, giggling with surprise or pleasure. Did your mum really!? Perhaps Kadi's remark was nothing more than a boastful exchange between adolescent friends.
It was one of the stories of her childhood back home. When the children were younger; they loved to hear the stories. They would sometimes prompt her to tell one, as if they had recognized a cue in something she had said. Jamal, her elder, used to remember them in detail, and speak about the people who appeared in them as if he knew them. Oh, Uncle Abdalla is always like that with money, isn't he? Really mean. Now Jamal was old enough to answer back and stay out all night, sleeping over at a friend's house but really doing who knows what. His clothes had the slightly nau¬seating smell of sweat and smoke and cheap food that she associated with the places young people went to, but he shouted and sulked at her if she went into his room to sort through his clothes for the wash. He liked them as they were. He walked in a disjointed shuffle, as if his legs and hips were dissolving slowly under him. In any case, he no longer had any interest in her childhood spectres. Or when he had no choice but to show interest, because she had reminded him of someone he once used to speak about with some familiarity, he nodded his head constantly, eager for her to finish, anxious for her not to allow the story to sprawl as she used to.
Kadi did not remember with the same fidelity, and often had to be reminded. Yes, you do know who he is, my Uncle Omar, who owned the farm where I went to live for several weeks when I was fourteen. Then unexpectedly, at times she would remember. Like now, after watching some empire nostalgia and passion, she remembered the farm and told her friends, My mother lived on a farm in Africa. Only it was nothing like that, no sweeping drive and horses and crystal glass, no servants, no subject people to save from themselves. She was the subject people, subject to life and to others, sent from here to there and back by those who loved her and owned her. That was what made Kadi's friend snigger. She knew very well it could not have been anything like the beautiful life they had just seen on the television. She would have known without reflection that Kadi's mother could not have lived on a farm in the real Africa of open skies and deep shadows, and avenues of acacia and lamplit verandas. More likely, Kadi's mother's Africa was the other one that you also caught glimpses of on television, streets crowded with people, and dusty fields full of children clinging to their mothers.
Perhaps Kadi's friend did not know she thought like that. Perhaps she did not snigger. It made Munah feel foolish that she had even considered rushing in there to rail at them. She wondered at the bitter taste the feeling left behind. Was it her age? She had heard a plea in what Kadi said. Please pretend that my mother looked like that when she was in Africa, and that I look like you. Perhaps it was not a plea at all, and Kadi could only think of Africa as the pictures she had just seen and could only see her mother living like that.
They were fourteen years old, and she would have embarrassed them, and Kadi most of all, if she had gone in there and told them that the farm she lived in was nothing like that make-believe luxury, that it was small and paltry and human, that it was not in Africa, but in a real place with names for everything, from the smell of grass and leaves to the smallest change in the weather.
She had not moved since her daughter spoke, paralysed by the rage she felt. Then slowly the rage receded, and was replaced by regret and spreading guilt. What was there to feel such rage about? They lived in different worlds. Her warmhearted daughter and her kind friends would weep over the fate of a wounded turtle or a stranded seal, but would turn away with indifference from the mean suffering of those they had learned to think of as deserving of it.
Memories troubled her. She could not forget. She did not even know why some things would not leave her. She wondered if that was how it was with all those people she saw in the streets who were far away from their homes. She wondered how distance made remembering different.

The arrangements were made in her earshot, but as if she was a casual listener rather than the person whom they concerned. Her father was absent, away for some months already and not expected in the near future. When she was a child, she never won¬dered at these long absences of her father. She became so used to them that she did not really notice, or rather only became aware of them when their father was living at home. Things happened when he was living with them, as if their mother waited until he was back before making any decisions or carrying out any big task. Maybe this was how he liked it too, or maybe they had to wait for the money he brought back from his long absences before they could get anything done. In later years, Munah thought her mother slowed down in his absence, and that the life she and her sister lived with her was subdued.
The weight of things became too heavy for her at this one time, and she became unwell. She sat for lengths of time with her head in her hands, complaining of headaches and unable to do the sim¬plest things. Munah and her elder sister Hawa tiptoed round her, sat with her when her slow breathing was the only sound between them, tried to keep their bickering down. They were helpless with her tears. When they started, nothing could stop their mother's tears until, so it seemed, she had shed all of them. Sometimes she cried all day long over a petty offence or a small hurt, until in the end all three of them were paralysed with weeping over their incomprehensible pain.
One day their Aunt Amina came to visit, and it was then that Munah heard the arrangements that would take her to the country. Aunt Amina, who was their mother's elder sister, said that the two of them were too much work, and that she would take Munah away with her until their mother was feeling less tired. `Hawa can look after her mother and allow her to rest and get her health back. You come to the country and we'll find work for you.'
Later she could not remember if anyone said anything about missing school, but it was one of the first things Munah herself thought. A few days off school. Within the hour Munah had made a bundle of her belongings for a few days' stay and was walking beside her aunt to the bus halt, wearing one of the new silky shawls her father had brought as a gift the last time he came home. She remembered that, because it was the first time she wore it. The farm was only fifteen miles out of town, and she had visited several times as a child, and she saw Uncle Omar four or five times a year because he sometimes called on them when he came to town. She had no idea that she would spend weeks there.
Uncle Omar did not smile much, but you knew it was not because he was annoyed or unhappy. He just did not smile, although he did when he saw Munah walking up the footpath to the house. He was sitting on the covered porch, weaving a basket out of palm leaves. Then he looked up when he heard them walk¬ing from the road, and his face turned into a speechless smile.
The house stood on a slope, at the bottom of which ran a small stream. The farm ran behind the house for six acres on both sides of the stream. She always remembered the first night she spent on the farm, and the deep silence of the country. It was not really silence, because there were scratchings and rustlings and an inde¬scribable suspension of the inaudible noises of night. It was a silence that leaped at her with a muted roar when she went out to the outhouse. In her sleep she heard raucous yells that were gone when she opened her eyes, and she heard the thick breathing of the frogs in the stream.
They gave her a room of her own. `You'll be here for a few weeks,' Aunt Amina said, `so make yourself comfortable.' The house was small, just two rooms and a store, not a shack but a small farmer's dwelling. At various times in the year, the room she slept in was also used as a store, so there were splash marks and plant juices which had soaked into the whitewashed wall and could not now be removed. The small window was barred and looked away from the stream, up the slope towards a grove of banana trees.
In the day, she was expected to stay close to Aunt Amina, and wait for chores to be given to her. She understood it was really to keep an eye on her because she was fourteen and a girl. She helped with sweeping the yard, with cooking, with washing clothes and with cleaning the fruit and packing it in the baskets for transport to the market in town. It was tiring at first, but she settled into a dull routine that she found surprisingly pleasant. In the afternoons, if she was not too tired and Uncle Omar was in the mood, he showed her the work on the farm, and sometimes took her out to the road where they walked as far as the huge mango tree where people waited for the bus to town. There was also a little shop there, and the shopkeeper made coffee for them while Uncle Omar stopped to exchange greetings and news with the people sitting on the bench. `Go and greet the people inside,' he said the first time. After that she always went to greet the women in the house and sat with them until Uncle Omar had finished his conversation with the men sitting under the tree.
One day, another man rose from the conversation and walked with them. He was many years younger than Uncle Omar, perhaps in his early thirties, with a smiling face and bright curious eyes. His name was Issa, Uncle Omar told her, and he was their nearest neighbour. She walked behind them and could hear from the tone of their voices that they liked each other. Issa usually called on them often, she found out later, but he had been away accompa¬nying his wife and children on a visit to their relatives in Pemba. When he came, he sat with Uncle Omar in the porch, chatting and laughing and drinking coffee. Sometimes Aunt Amina sat with them, he was such a good friend. She asked after his wife and chil¬dren and sometimes called him son.
He always asked for Munah to come and greet him. Munah could not help noticing that he glanced at her when no one was looking. She could not help noticing his interest. It went on like that for many days, and as time passed his visits became daily, and her body became heated under his scrutiny and his stolen glances. His looks became less hurried, and one day he gave her a secret smile. She smiled back and looked away, pleased.

It was impossible to mistake what was going on. Uncle Omar looked nervous and uncomfortable when she appeared while Issa was there. Aunt Amina always had something for her to do. Neither of them said anything to her. His smiles and glances thrilled her but also frightened her, but since he said nothing and her uncle and aunt were so vigilant, she felt safe, as if in a game.
One night he appeared at her window. Perhaps it wasn't the first time, perhaps he had done so before. The window was high in the wall, and had two wooden shutters. When she first arrived she was afraid of the country darkness and shut both shutters. Later she took to keeping one open. She woke up with a sense that some¬thing had happened, and her eyes went directly to the window. There was enough glow in the night air for her to see a silhouette of a head at the window. She could not prevent a frightened gasp before she put a hand over her mouth. It took only an instant, and then she knew it was Issa. She steadied herself, as if she was still asleep, and after a moment she heard his breathing. She realized that some straining quality in it must have been what woke her up. The head disappeared after a while, but she dared not shut the window, in case he reached in for her when she went to shut it. She lay awake for most of the night, dozing and waking, her face turned towards the window.
The next morning she went to look outside and saw that there was a small mound of hard earth that he would have stood on to look in, although even then he would have had to hang on by the bars on the window. When Issa came to visit that afternoon, she stayed inside the yard and heard a tremor in her voice as she called out a greeting. That night she shut both shutters and lay awake, waiting for him. She heard him when he arrived, and sensed his hand on the shutter, pushing at it. `Don't hide from me,' he said softly, pleading. She lay in the dark, listening to his breathing. After a moment she heard the soft thud as he let go of the window bars. She could not bear the fear of it, and told Aunt Amina when she saw her in the morning. Aunt Amina said nothing for a moment, just looked sad, as if Munah had given her news of a ter¬rible loss. `Don't say anything to Omar,' she said.
She told her to get her things ready, and within the hour they were on their way to the bus halt under the mango tree. Uncle Omar could not understand the rush. `Has something happened?' he asked.
`No,' Aunt Amina told him. `I just forgot that I'd promised to take her back today. She's been here for weeks, you know.'

Munah heard Kadi calling for her. `Where are you?' she called out.
She came into the kitchen, fourteen and smiling, safe as houses, and came to where Munah was sitting at the table with her mem¬ories. She leaned over her mother from behind, her long hair falling round her mother's head.
`What are you doing?' she asked, kissing the top of her head and then retreating. Without waiting for an answer she said: `We're going round to Amy's. I'll be back in a couple of hours.'
`It wasn't like that, the farm in Africa,' Munah said.
`Oh, you heard,' Kadi said. `I was just winding them up, trying to make them jealous.'
Литература / Re: Знакомимся с новым лауреатом
« Последний ответ от bibliographer 07.10.2021, 22:02:29 »
Эта статья лишний раз подтверждает, что академики выбрали очень достойного лауреата.

Желающие прочитать его предпоследний роман могут заказать его в Читай-городе (осталось четыре экземпляра) или на Буквоеде.


Литература / Re: Знакомимся с новым лауреатом
« Последний ответ от н 07.10.2021, 20:46:31 »
Писатель для литературоведов -Би-Би-Си. https://www.bbc.com/russian/news-58828324
Литература / Re: Знакомимся с новым лауреатом
« Последний ответ от bibliographer 07.10.2021, 17:38:41 »
Лейла Абулела о последнем романе нового лауреата "Загробная жизнь" (2020):

"Абдулразак Гурна спас меня от долгого спада чтения. Я всегда была поклонником его работ, и этот последний роман - удовольствие с его легким повествованием, ярким восточноафриканским сеттингом и пониманием немецкого колониализма. Гурна превосходно изображает жизни тех, кого жестокость и несправедливость уменьшила, тех, кто скорее смотрит в сторону, чем противостоит, запуганных и обиженных. Вот почему в его руках униженные женщины, подвергшиеся насилию сироты и стремящиеся к беженцам становятся такими правдоподобными и доступными. Обольстителен и красивый, суровый мир, который он изображает, с горько-сладкими встречами и очагами сострадания, поворотами судьбы и неустойчивыми ударами. Перелистывая страницы, я забыла, что читаю художественную литературу, это было так реально".

Литература / премия 2022 года
« Последний ответ от bibliographer 07.10.2021, 17:24:41 »
Теперь, в порядке гендерной очерёдности, снова женщина?
Литература / Re: премия 2021 года
« Последний ответ от bibliographer 07.10.2021, 17:20:49 »
Обычно в такой день мы говорим о русскоязычной библиографии нового лауреата.

Сегодня установлен антирекорд для постсоветской России: ни одной публикации.

Последний раз подобное случалось ещё в СССР сорок лет назад.

Что ж, отечественное книгоизданиие логично и последовательно стремилось к такому итогу. Худлит доживает последние денёчки как госиздательство. Да и альманах "Африка" оно не выпускает уже больше тридцати лет. Частным издательствам дела нет до большой литературы: масскульт проще распродать. Если бы не советские книги, мы бы и Шойинку сегодня не знали. А ведь он ещё жив, является своеобразным дуайеном корпуса нобелиатов и не может понять, почему в современной России ему отказано во внимании, которым он пользовался в СССР.
Литература / Re: премия 2021 года
« Последний ответ от sibkron 07.10.2021, 15:30:53 »
Вы что действительно полагаете, что тут сокрылся непризнанный гений, у которого ни одного задрипанного Букера (условно) нет за плечами, кажется? Бросьте. Постколониальные штудии, миграционные потоки, (несуществующая в плане гм импакт-фактора) литература Танзании, темнокожий, заодно профессор в Кенте и пишет на английском (шанс, что хоть кто-то это прочтет). Все продумано. Странно, что не озабочен проблемами климата, но с этим еще нужно разобраться. Высокий, короче говоря, гуманизм. Откровенно говоря, я не всеядный читатель, чтобы интересоваться подобным.

Тож с годами стал невсеяден, но нобелевские лауреаты меня пока ещё не разочаровывали.
Литература / Знакомимся с новым лауреатом
« Последний ответ от bibliographer 07.10.2021, 15:20:13 »
Абдулразак Гурна

(из докторской диссертации Михаила Дмитриевича Громова "Становление и развитие романа в литературах Восточной Африки")

Методом «мифологического пересоздания» исторической реальности пользуется в своих романах уроженец Занзибара Абдулразак Гурна (р. 1948). Отдав дань «традиционному» реализму — его первый роман «Воспоминание о прощании» (Gurnah 1987) посвящен событиям в Восточной Африке накануне независимости, романы «Путь пилигрима» и «Дотти» рассказывают о жизни общины восточноафриканских индийцев в Англии (сам Гурна живет там с середины 80-х годов) — в романе «Рай» (1994) Гурна обращается к доколониальной истории Восточной Африки. Гурна вырабатывает собственное видение истории своей родины, объединённое концепцией рая — как объяснил ее сам автор в одном из интервью, «рай одного человека может стать адом для другого». Каждая из общин Восточной Африки, изображенных в романе, пытается построить для себя свой собственный «рай», который становится адом для их соседей. Наибольшее внимание автор уделяет попыткам построения «арабского рая» — не только ввиду своего собственного занзибарского происхождения, но и потому, что, как он справедливо полагает, именно арабское влияние существеннейшим образом изменило жизнь народов Восточной Африки во втором тысячелетии. В романе описывается период заката арабской торговой империи — действие происходит в последней четверти XIX столетия. Один из главных персонажей романа, арабский купец Азиз, полон решимости найти в Восточной Африке настоящий райский сад, описанный в Коране, «откуда берут начало все реки земли». Но «чтобы найти его, нужно жить, а источник жизни — это торговля». Для отдыха же от торговых дел и поисков подлинного рая Азиз строит свой собственный, маленький, земной рай — роскошный сад в окрестностях города Багамойо; «за стенами сада кончается мир» — говорит о своем детище сам Азиз. Эти два топоса — достижимый рай земной и искомый рай небесный — составляют один план романного пространства; второй же план — реальность, которая настолько далека от рая, что мы склонны согласиться с немецкой исследовательницей Дианой Швердт, когда она говорит о романе Гурна как о своего рода антиутопии. Дабы поддерживать свои поиски небесного рая, Азиз, по его собственному признанию, ведёт торговлю, но основной товар её — рабы; его пути во внутренние районы Танганьики устланы трупами и пеплом сожжённых деревень. В «земной рай», построенный Азизом, допускаются лишь избранные — он огорожен высокой стеной, стражники готовы убить любого непрошеного пришельца, а гостям Азиза, таким же, как он, богатым арабам, прислуживают превращенные в безмолвные тени женщины — жены Азиза и его рабыни, причем последние — не только африканки, но и арабские девушки, которых он отбирает в качестве уплаты у их родителей — своих должников. Потерявшие привлекательность женщины (независимо от статуса — и рабыни, и жены) изгоняются или умерщвляются и заменяются новыми. «Если есть ад на земле, то он уж точно здесь», — с горечью говорит о «рае», построенном Азизом, молодая рабыня Амина, сознающая, что «ей оставляют жизнь лишь потому, что жизнь ее лишена всякого значения». Создают свой «рай», оборачивающийся адом для соседей, и другие — индийцы и греки в Моши в стремлении разбогатеть надувают друг друга и бессовестно грабят местные племена, последние же ведут нескончаемые междоусобные войны, чтобы захватить у соседей пленных и продать их в рабство арабам. История Восточной Африки предстает в романе Гурна в виде порочного круга, что сближает на наш взгляд, концепцию автора с аналогичными идеями в романах М.Вассанджи.
Именно в такой «рай» попадает главный герой романа — юноша по имени Юсуф, сын араба и африканки. В ранней юности он продан за долги Азизу, и постепенно, благодаря послушанию, становится любимцем хозяина. Юсуфа, после долгих приключений и мытарств в своем «раю», Азиз отправляет в длительную экспедицию вглубь континента, побочной целью которой является захват новых рабов, главной же (и тайной) — поиски заветного Райского сада. Экспедиция кончается неудачей — многие её участники гибнут от болезней и копий и стрел «туземцев», разгневанных бесчинствами работорговцев, Райский сад же по-прежнему далек. Гурна вновь вводит в действие мистико-символический план повествования, на котором противостояние арабов и коренного населения оборачивается схваткой неких высших сил. По приказанию начальника экспедиции Хамида у подножия одной из гор на пути его каравана его люди разбивают сад за каменной стеной, подобный «раю», построенному Азизом — Хамид рассчитывает, что его хозяин будет останавливаться здесь во время своих последующих путешествий вглубь материка. Однако усилия строителей за несколько ночей уничтожает африканская природа — растущие с невероятной быстротой корни деревьев разрушают стену, вьющиеся растения душат саженцы заморских деревьев, прожорливые обитатели саванны поедают золотых рыб. При этом образ африканской природы предельно «антропоморфизирован» — это некая мощная, непостижимая и одушевленная сила, сходная с Африканской тьмой из известного романа Джозефа Конрада (о переосмыслении идей Конрада как об одном из важных факторов при создании романа Гурна говорил в упоминавшемся интервью).
Провал экспедиции Азиза, символичный сам по себе, знаменует и размыкание порочного круга «арабского» периода истории Восточной Африки, ибо впереди её ждёт новый, ещё более страшный круг. Главному герою, Юсуфу, несмотря на обилие случающихся с ним событий, автор, по сути, отводит функцию наблюдателя (с этой целью и наделяя его смешанным происхождением — вследствие его Юсуф не может быть принят ни в один из местных «раев»). Именно его глазами читатель видит все события внутри «уходящего круга», Юсуф же становится и первым свидетелем начала круга нового — в финальном эпизоде романа он провожает глазами караван африканцев-носильщиков, но на этот раз они движутся не к побережью, неся добытую арабами слоновую кость, а в обратном направлении, к границе с Кенией, и несут на своих плечах немецкие пушки — Европа, придя в Африку, принесла с собой и свои войны, и немецкие колонизаторы строят укрепления, готовясь к вторжению англичан. Белые тоже будут пытаться построить здесь свой рай, и даже арабы, бывшие властители этих мест, начинают догадываться, чем это обернется для них, да и для других местных жителей. «Когда они начнут драться за то, что внутри земли, они и нас превратят в пыль в этой схватке... — говорит Азиз, наблюдая за действиями «вадачи» — Им не торговля нужна, как нам, а сама здешняя земля. Земля со всем, что есть в ней и на ней, то есть — и вместе с нами».
Идею рая Гурна использует и в романе «Восхищенное молчание» — здесь недостижимым райским садом становится сама Африка в глазах героя романа, занзибарца, женатого на англичанке и двадцать лет живущего в Лондоне. Утомленный английской жизнью, которая кажется ему скучной и пресной, герой начинает рассказывать жене о родном Занзибаре, прибавляя все новые невероятные подробности. «Она никогда не уставала слушать мои рассказы о моей земле и моем народе, и я признаю, что все эти невероятные истории я придумывал в основном для того, чтобы вознаградить ее за неустанный интерес, а также для того, чтобы сделать нас интереснее друг другу, а нашу жизнь — более значительной». Постепенно создается картина некоего чудесного мира, в которую начинает верить и сам герой, и при первой же возможности, узнав об амнистии бывшим оппозиционерам на Занзибаре (он вынужден был эмигрировать в Англию по политическим мотивам), он устремляется туда, чтобы обрести потерянный рай юности. Картина реального Занзибара приводит его в шок; он снова летит в Англию, теперь уже она кажется ему потерянным раем — лишь для того, чтобы узнать, что в его отсутствие жена полюбила другого. Последняя надежда для героя — встреча с иммигранткой из Индии, такой же потерянной душой, как и он сам. «Устраненный тон героя-рассказчика, — пишет французская исследовательница Жаклин Бардольф, — в финале сменяется гневным, но гнев этот бесцелен: никакая выдуманная история не в состоянии отразить его нынешнее положение».
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