Set at the turn of the twentieth century, as Germany consolidated control over its East African colony, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s 1994 novel Paradise encompasses the last of the “Arab” caravan trading expeditions from the East African coast deep into the interior of the continent. In doing so, it also engages with a complex of intertexts ranging from the Qur’anic and biblical versions of the Yusuf/Joseph story to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This essay adds V. S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River to this mix by reading Gurnah’s historical attentiveness as an overwriting of Naipaul’s second chapter, and the placement of Gurnah’s character, Kalasinga, as a Naipaul figure within the novel’s action. Gurnah’s novelistic play dramatizes the tension and concordance between his own generation’s and Naipaul’s postcolonial articulations.

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