Desertion is a novel by Abdulrazak Gurnah that weaves a tale tied together through generations. It starts in 1899 in Mombasa, Kenya with a local Muslim man coming across an Englishman in need of medical assistance. Their chance meeting eventually leads to a romance between the Muslim man’s sister and the Englishman, which sets the stage for the fine threads that tie the remaining stories together and form the echoes of repercussions of the affair many decades later.
Gurnah is a wonderful, award-winning writer and his lyrical words bring the reader fully into the stories he creates. He paints an accurate, historical backdrop that sets the stage for the characters we can’t help but be fascinated by. Culture and religion are weighty companions in these tales, and moral questions repeatedly appear throughout the work. The start is slow, but the further you get, the more intrigued you will be. Strongly recommended.