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Abdulrazak Gurnah wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on October 07, 2021

The Tanzanian writer gets the award for his compassionate treatment of the refugee experience

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 was awarded to the 73-year-old Zanzibar-born writer Abdulrazak Gurnah "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents."

In a series of tweets, the prestigious awards body mentioned the writer's background. "Gurnah was born in 1948 and grew up on the island of Zanzibar, but arrived in England as a refugee at the end of the 1960s," it said. "Until his recent retirement, he was Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, Canterbury."

"Abdulrazak Gurnah has published ten novels and a number of short stories. The theme of the refugee’s disruption runs throughout his work. He began writing as a 21-year-old in English exile, and although Swahili was his first language, English became his literary tool," it said in another tweet.

His most famous novel is Paradise, which was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1994

"Gurnah consciously breaks with convention, upending the colonial perspective to highlight that of the indigenous populations. Thus, his novel Desertion (2005) about a love affair becomes a blunt contradiction to what he has called “the imperial romance,” the Nobel Prize added.

The twitter page also shared a recording of a near six-minute telephone interview with the writer. "I was just watching the announcement here on my computer. Who are you please?" Gurnah asks as an official from the Nobel Prize speaks. When the person later introduces himself and asks how he feels, Gurnah, sounding calm and composed, says, "I am still settling in, man. This is such a big prize."


Gurnah becomes the first Tanzanian writer to win the Nobel Prize.

One of his most recent works is Afterlives, a many layered story on Africa’s colonial history written in his trademark graceful prose that earned great plaudits.

Check out the book here


Published on October 07, 2021

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