On a late November afternoon Saleh Omar arrives at Gatwick Airport from Zanzibar, a far away island in the Indian Ocean. With him he has a small bag in which there lies his most precious possession - a mahogany box containing incense. He used to own a furniture shop, have a house and be a husband and father. Now he is an asylum seeker from paradise; silence his only protection. Meanwhile Latif Mahmud, someone intimately connected with Saleh's past, lives quietly alone in his London flat. When Saleh and Latif meet in an English seaside town, a story is unravelled. It is a story of love and betrayal, of seduction and of possession, and of a people desperately trying to find stability amidst the maelstrom of their times.
Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in 1948 in Zanzibar and teaches at the University of Kent. He is the author of the novels Memory of Departure, Pilgrims Way, Dottie, Paradise, shortlisted for the Booker and Whitbread Prizes, and Admiring Silence.