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FIRST CHAPTER | An Island by Karen Jennings

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South African writer Karen Jennings, now resident partly in Brazil, has been longlisted for the Booker Prize. (Carol Coelho)
South African writer Karen Jennings, now resident partly in Brazil, has been longlisted for the Booker Prize. (Carol Coelho)

An Island by Karen Jennings was longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. It is the story of Samuel, a lighthouse keeper who lives alone on a small island. He is used to collecting debris washed up by the sea, but one day he finds a young refugee thrown up on the beach: “the sea has brought someone to offer companionship and to threaten his solitude”. This is the first chapter of An Island, published in South Africa by Karavan Press. 

It was the first time that an oil drum had washed up on the scattered pebbles of the island shore. Other items had arrived over the years – ragged shirts, bits of rope, cracked lids from plastic lunchboxes, braids of synthetic material made to resemble hair. There had been bodies too, as there was today. The length of it stretched out beside the drum, one hand reaching forward as though to indicate that they had made the journey together and did not now wish to be parted. 

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