Monday, January 3, 2022

the last book I ever read (Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah, excerpt seven)

from Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah, the 2021 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature:

As we were waiting to disembark, my companion was back at work with his towel, smiling at my nervousness and wishing me luck with benignly mailicious glee. The heat and smell of the earth struck me as if for the first time. I didn’t remember it like that, not the humid fumes of decomposing vegetation and baking earth which made me heave for breath. The terminal building was new, squat and anonymous, all glass and steel, with a viewing balcony on the first floor. Some way to the right was the old building, looking small and decorative with its crenellations and red-tiled roof and heavy wooden railings, like a pavilion in an ornamental garden or a villa on a Mediterranean hillside. As we walked across the tarmac I felt as exposed as if I had stepped off the plane naked, or as if my clothes were too baggy or too tight, or too colourful and ridiculous, as if I were a refugee from a circus. I looked out for familiar faces on the balcony, and I saw one that seemed as if it could be my stepfather. After such a long time, and from such a distance, I could not be sure, so I waved to be on the safe side. The man I had waved to stared for a moment and looked behind him, then turned back towards me with a look of surprise. He was too young to be my stepfather, I could see that now.

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