Short Story #21. Cages (Abdulrazak Gurnah)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the Jack of clubs (my first Jack).

Story: Cages, by Abdulrazak Gurnah [from The Granta Book of the African Short Story]

Comments: “Cages” is a really clever title for this story, and is what caused me to stop and reflect on it – what cages? who is caged?  And ultimately, it seems, everyone is.  Hamid is caged in the shop in which he not only works but also sleeps and which he almost never goes outside.  Mansur, one of his customers, is caged – at least to come extent – by physical blindness, mirrored by a kind of moral blindness evident when he regards Rukiya, a young woman customer, simply as a potential sexual conquest.  Fajir, the owner of the shop, is caged in his room, his bed, by physical debility.  Rukiya is caged by her expectations of men – Hamid is attracted to her, but she expects only that he will want to buy sex with her, and so fails to see his potential.  Hamid tries to break out of his cage by taking some late night walks towards the sea, but he is limited by his fears.  And at the end of the story he is further caged by his sense of shame at the low opinion Rukiya has of him.  The story offers little by way of hope for a way out of these cages for any of the characters.  Pessimistic?  or just realistic?

Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in Zanzibar and now lives in England; he is Professor of Post-Colonial Literatures at the University of Kent.

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One thought on “Short Story #21. Cages (Abdulrazak Gurnah)

  1. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 22 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

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