The recent Nobel Prize winner for literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah, is considered one of the most distinguished chroniclers of the Indian Ocean.That is the case of By the Sea (2001), an epic narrative criss-crossing three continents in which Persians, Zanzibaris and other East Africans interact with each other in Arabic, English and Swahili. The purpose of my paper is to test the concept of cosmopolitanism as applied to the characters in the aforementioned novel by Gurnah. My main contention is that the characters in the novel, as they try to make sense of their identities in an unfolding globalization, unmoor silenced cosmopolitan visions of the globe. In this sense, I read By the Sea as an example of contemporary maritime fiction that seeks to record the changing notions of cosmopolitanism that have been put forward in global studies. In particular, I intend to validate Bruce Robbins’s claim in his introduction to Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation (1998) that “the term [cosmopolitanism] should be extended to transnational experiences that are particular rather than universal and that are unprivileged – indeed, often coerced (1998: 1). In other words, I argue that the characters populating Gurnah’s novel forge and configure their identities as cosmopolitan in an emerging global world, even if their cosmopolitanisms can be said to be coerced, unprivileged and against their will. Ultimately, my paper seeks to demonstrate that the transoceanic connections represented in the novel feature the Indian Ocean as an arena in which new world orders and new patterns of globalization are emerging, patterns that illustrate “a set of transnational relations alternative to hegemonic northern globalisation” (Ghosh and Muecke 2007: 2) and therefore reveal that oceanic basin as a testing ground to analyse the shape-shifting contours of contemporary globalization.