Monday 14 November 2022

Gurnah, Abdulrazak "Pilgrims Way"

Gurnah, Abdulrazak "Pilgrims Way" - 1988

Daud is a Muslim from Tanzania who goes to England in the 70s. He works as an orderly in a hospital, does what thousands of immigrants do, cleans up after the white people. He meets prejudice and racism, the promised land is not what he expected it to be but a return into his home country is impossible.

In this situation he shares his thoughts, his fears, his hopes with us. And that of other immigrants but also the "hosts" which are not always that hospitable, so we better call them the natives.

The author describes an England shortly after the colonial period when they still had to get used to not being the "master race" anymore. I don't just speak about the British Isles, there are people all over the world who still don't understand that.

But, even more, he describes the problems of an immigrant. If you really want to know, read this books.

Oh, one thing he talks about a lot is cricket. I still don't understand it any better.

Book description:

"By the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature An extraordinary depiction of the life of an immigrant, as he struggles to come to terms with the horror of his past and the meaning of his pilgrimage to England. Dear Catherine, he began. Here I sit, making a meal out of asking you to dinner. I don't really know how to do it. To have cultural integrity, I would have to send my aunt to speak, discreetly, to your aunt, who would then speak to your mother, who would speak to my mother, who would speak to my father, who would speak to me and then approach your mother, who would then approach you. Demoralised by small persecutions and the squalor and poverty of his life, Daud takes refuge in his imagination. He composes wry, sardonic letters hectoring friends and enemies, and invents a lurid colonial past for every old man he encounters. His greatest solace is cricket and the symbolic defeat of the empire at the hands of the mighty West Indies.Although subject to attacks of bitterness and remorse, his captivating sense of humour never deserts him as he struggles to come to terms with the horror of his past and the meaning of his pilgrimage to England."

Abdulrazak Gurnah received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021 "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents".

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.


  1. I don't understand cricket either. ;D

    1. I hardly know anyone who does, Lark. Hubby once had a colleague who tried to explain it to me. I know more since I accompanied my sons's class in a baseball tournament (I was the official "coach" though the kids knew everything a lot better than me. We used to play a similar game as children and it has some similarities with cricket but I'm not really that interested, not interested in any team sports.
      However, the book was still very interesting.