Paradisaical notions are cross-cultural, often laden with pastoral imagery, and may be cosmogonical or eschatological or both, often compared to the miseries of human civilization: in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, a land of luxury and idleness. Paradise is often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, in contrast to this world, or underworlds such as Hell.
In eschatological contexts, paradise is imagined as an abode of the virtuous dead. In Christian and Islamic understanding, Heaven is a paradisaical relief. In old Egyptian beliefs, the otherworld is Aaru, the reed-fields of ideal hunting and fishing grounds where the dead lived after judgment. For the Celts, it was the Fortunate Isle of Mag Mell. For the classical Greeks, the Elysian fields was a paradisaical land of plenty where the heroic and righteous dead hoped to spend eternity. The Vedic Indians held that the physical body was destroyed by fire but recreated and reunited in the Third Heaven in a state of bliss. In the Zoroastrian Avesta, the "Best Existence" and the "House of Song" are places of the righteous dead. On the other hand, in cosmological contexts 'paradise' describes the world before it was tainted by evil.
On 12 June 2012, Simpson released Preview to Paradise, a four song teaser EP. The EP featured the songs "Got Me Good", "So Listen", "Wish U Were Here", and "Gentleman". All of the songs, besides "So Listen" were released as a part of Paradise. Simpson stated the reason behind only having a few collaborations on the album is because "I wanted my debut full length album to be a representation of me." It is rumored that Simpson could perform a one off song with JLS star Aston Merrygold once Surfers Paradise has been released.
On 25 May 2012, the lead single, "Got Me Good" was released as a teaser on Simpson's official website and radio. The accompanying music video was released on 5 June.
"Wish U Were Here", which features American YouTube singer Becky G, was the second official single off the album, released on 12 June 2012. The music video debuted on 7 August 2012. Four days later, three remixes of the song were released.
The novel follows the story of Yusuf, a boy born in the fictional town of Kawa in Tanzania at the turn of the Twentieth century. Yusuf's father is a hotelier and is in debt to a rich and powerful Arab merchant named Aziz. Early in the story Yusuf is pawned in exchange for his father's owed debt to Aziz and must work as an unpaid servant for the merchant. Yusuf joins Aziz's caravan as they travel into parts of Central Africa and the Congo Basin that have hitherto not been traded with for many generations. Here, Aziz's caravan of traders meets hostility from local tribes, wild animals and difficult terrain. As the caravan returns to East Africa, World War I begins and Aziz encounters the German Army as they sweep Tanzania, forcibly conscripting African men as soldiers.
African literary scholar J U Jacobs writes that Gurnah is writing back to Joseph Conrad's famous 1902 novel Heart Of Darkness. In Aziz's easterly journey to the Congo, Jacobs says that Gurnah is challenging the dominant Western images of the Congo at the turn of the twentieth century that continue to pervade the popular imagination.