An Island

An Island

A Novel

Karen Jennings2022

LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE • A “powerful” (The Guardian) novel about a lighthouse keeper with a mysterious past, and the stranger who washes up on his shores--the American debut of a major new voice in world literature. Samuel has lived alone on a small island off the coast of an unnamed African country for more than two decades. He tends to his garden, his lighthouse, and his chickens, content with a solitary life. Routinely, the nameless bodies of refugees wash ashore, but Samuel--who understands that the government only values certain lives, certain deaths--always buries them himself. One day, though, he finds that one of these bodies is still breathing. As he nurses the stranger back to life, Samuel--feeling unsettled and strangely threatened--is soon swept up in memories of his former life as a political prisoner on the mainland: a life that saw his country exploited under colonial rule, followed by a period of revolution and a brief, hard-won independence, only for the cycle of suffering to continue under a cruel dictator. And he can't help but recall his own shameful role in that history. In this stranger’s presence he begins to consider, as he did in his youth: What does it mean to own land, or to belong to it? And what does it cost to have--and lose--a home? A timeless and gripping portrait of regret, fear, and the extraordinary stakes of companionship, An Island is a story as page-turning as it is profound.
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