Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in Zanzibar in 1948 and now teaches literature at the University of Kent in England. His first novel, Memory of Departure, was published in 1987. In it the narrator probes the impulse to leave his home and the resulting senses of compulsion and guilt. These themes have recurred throughout Gurnah's work. His novels Pilgrims Way and Dottie deal with the experience of migrant lives in England. Paradise, Gurnah's 1994 novel, is set in the period of the colonial encounter in East Africa, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award. It was followed by Admiring Silence and By the Sea. His most recent novel, Desertion, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He lives in Canterbury, England.