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Tuesday January 4, 2011 in Books
Zanzibar, an island set like a jewel in the Indian Ocean off the coast of east Africa is rich in cultural heritage: inhabited since the last Ice Age; birthplace of Kiswahili, the purest form of the Swahili language group; its original hunter-gatherer culture overlaid with Indian, Arab, Persian, Portuguese and finally British colonial and mercantile influences; and achieving its semi-autonomous independence in the bloody revolution of 1964; it remains the quintessential example of the fabled “Spice Islands.”
Within a swirl of profoundly different but concurrent beliefs and prejudices that seems only nominally Islam, Nuri is born and comes of age in the bosom of his multicultural family and its community. As far back as he can remember, he knows that Nuri is not his real name. His grandmother told him as a child that his real name was hidden, to protect him from the evil spirits that lurk everywhere in search of identities to do their awful bidding.
As Nuri grows older, the diction of the stories changes: from the naïve voice of childhood through the self-conscious worries of adolescence; the wonder of his discovery of reading and writing; the heavily accented “BBC English” of the senior schoolboy, its rhythms and diction in the clearly enunciated syntax of the defensive gesture; to the polite reserve of the professional classes of the “naturalized” Canadian immigrant.
In this collection of beautifully crafted, spare, concise and refreshingly understated stories, we accompany Nuri on his quest to understand how servitude transcends slavery; fealty transcends servitude; and community transcends fealty.
Amid a sea of dystopian world literatures haunted by the fractious claims of identity politics, Nuri Does Not Exist is an astonishingly charming collection of linked short stories that engages us with the utterly believable innocence of its Utopian vision.
ISBN 13: 9780889226555 | ISBN 10: 889226555
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 152 pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Backlist | Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
QUOTES OF NOTE
"Nuri Does Not Exist is, at heart, a gripping collection of short stories that explores the transient, multiple, unstable categories of identity to which we attempt to bind ourselves … Jetha masterfully weaves the tension between constructed and intrinsic selfhood into every page." —EVENT
“Sadru Jetha’s story ‘Nuri Does Not Exist’ is a sharply intelligent and genuinely moving exploration of identity and displacement. ” —Canadian Literature
“‘Nuri Does Not Exist,’ is about a Zanzibari who becomes a Tanzanian who becomes a Calgarian. Losing and gaining an identity with each shuffle, he has kept safe from evil spirits by secreting his real names. Jetha’s piece is exotic …” —Books in Canada
About the ContributorsSadru Jetha
Sadru Jetha was born and raised in Zanzibar under British rule. Studying law at Dublin University and philosophy at the University of London, he practised law in Tanzania; lectured in the philosophy of law in England; and immigrated to Canada in the 1980s. His work has been published in various literary magazines, anthologized in Due West, and broadcast on CBC’s Alberta Anthology.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.