A Storm Blew in from Paradise


‘A storm blew in from paradise. That storm was life.’

P’s greatest dream is to fly. While training to become a Ugandan fighter pilot in an academy outside Athens, the 1971 Idi Amin coup in his homeland, Uganda, disrupts his plans. He defects and becomes a man on the run. In this extraordinary novel based on his own father’s fate, Anyuru evokes P’s struggles in gorgeous, vivid prose. As a refugee, as a military-camp prisoner, and as an exile, P never gives up hope and continues to dream of a life as a pilot. Told across two generations in a language that simmers with lyrical longing, this search for identity and purpose soars from a world in which nowhere is home.

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Publication date

November 5, 2019




Johannes Anyuru

Johannes Anyuru (Sweden, 1979), the son of a Ugandan father and a Swedish mother, is a novelist and poet. A Storm Blew in from Paradise enjoyed immense success… Read more

Book Club Questions

  1. Why do you think P wanted to be a pilot?
  2. The book’s title is a Walter Benjamin quote, which is written out in full on page XXX, and refers to the “angel of history.” How do you think these ideas connect with the themes of the novel? What is the significance of the book’s title?
  3. Do you think the man in whom P confides in the cage during his first interrogation is genuine or a spy? What leads you to your opinion?
  4. How do you think K felt when P left Greece? Do you think she suspected anything? Why, why not?
  5. What do you think of the letter K’s mother wrote? Do you think K saw the letter from P? Why, why not?
  6. Why do you think the homeless man P gave money to chose to tell him not to sleep at the bus station that night? What might his reasons have been?
  7. What is the significance of the pages of Chairman Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’ being scattered round the camp in Tanzania?
  8. The story of P is interspersed with chapters from the point of view of Anyuru himself, in which we learn P is his father: what effect does this have on the novel, and how does it make you feel as a reader?
  9. How successfully do you think P adjusted to his life in Sweden? Do you think he would have been more content had he remained in Africa?
  10. At several points in the novel, when describing daily life in the camps, the language changes from “I” to “one” (i.e. “one picks up a handful of dirt”). Why do you think Anyuru makes this choice, what effect (if any) does it have?
  11. What are the events in P’s life that could have turned out differently? Which were out of his control and where could he have altered events? What do you think of the choices he made?
  12. Describe the effect (if any) of the use of the future tense on the last few pages. Here, again, Anyuru changes the language slightly and refers to ‘the body’—how does this make you feel?
  13. How do you think P’s story affected his son?


“[A Storm Blew in from Paradise] is a tour de force of significant talent and deceptively understated craft in every paragraph and on every page. Written in easy, quiet diction and register, with painstaking attentiveness to the beauty and richness of literary language, it is an unblinking exploration of suffering, isolation, and physical and mental pain…Johannes Anyuru’s novel takes pains to gesture at the crisis of the survival of not just refugees and postcolonial migrants, but for the Anthropocene.”
—Nandini Bhattacharya, The Literary Review

“A deeply moving meditation on identity and history, the personal and the political, blurring the boundaries between truth and fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews

“While a resilient human can be broken, resilience itself can’t….a lesson that comes across clearly in Anyuru’s effective debut novel.” —Rain Taxi

“Anyuru’s searingly poetic style rescues his writing from bleakness and sentimentality alike as he confronts the lies we live by.” —The Independent

“A tense, sparse re-telling of a life. This novel is a shining example of literature’s ability to give its readers a new perspective on the world, and an excellent way to learn about the emotional consequences of war and exile. I can honestly say that A Storm Blew in from Paradise is the best Swedish novel I have read in a long time. I would advise anyone interested in the writing process, in familial and national ties, in pain, healing, loss and rediscovery to read it.” —Swedish Book Review

“A strikingly beautiful text pierced with today’s doubts and theories about what creates true meaning in the life story of a single human being, as well as in history. This is a personal and universal novel about fatherlessness and identity, about the power of violence and about how we are all prisoners of time.” —Aftonbladet

“Johannes Anyuru’s language hurls itself, like the main character of this book, straight into the sun, burning and scorching.” —Helsingborgs Dagblad