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The Magic of Saida

The Magic of Saida

By M.G. Vassanji
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"The Magic of Saida is the sort of novel that, upon finishing, one wants to immediately read again, to examine, to study just how Vasssanji works his narrative magic, and to allow oneself to savour it just that little bit longer." —The Globe and Mail

The Magic of Saida
tells the haunting story of Kamal, a successful Canadian doctor who, in middle age and after decades in North America, decides to return to his homeland of East Africa to find his childhood sweetheart, Saida. Kamal's journey is motivated by a combination of guilt, hope, and the desire to unravel the mysteries of his childhood. Through a series of flashbacks, we watch Kamal's early years in the ancient coastal town of Kilwa, where he grows up in a world of poverty but also of poetry, sustained by his friendship with the magical Saida.      This world abruptly ends when Kamal is sent away by his mother to live with his father's family in the city. There, the academically gifted boy grows up as a "dark Indian," eventually going to university and departing for Canada. Left behind to her traditional fate is Saida, now a beautiful young woman. Decades later, Kamal's guilt pulls him back to Kilwa . . . where he discovers what happened to Saida during a harrowing night of sinister rites.

Praise for The Magic of Saida

"Gripping. . . . Compelling. . . . A humble village, in the imagination of this chronicler, becomes a vortex of varying belief systems and ways of life."
—National Post

"A sensitive examination of love, loss, and homelessness resulting from necessary shifts in cultural environments."
—The Vancouver Sun