Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah said he was “surprised and humble” to receive the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Swedish Academy praised Gurnah for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism”.
The prize is awarded by the Swedish Academy and is endowed with 10 million Swedish kronor ($ 1.14 million / £ 840,000).
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Gurnah, 73, is the author of 10 novels, including Paradis and Désertion.
He said how grateful he was to the academy, adding: “It’s just awesome – it’s a huge award, and such a long list of wonderful writers – I can’t believe it.
“It was such a total surprise that I had to wait to hear it announce to believe it.”
‘Dedication to the truth’
Paradise, published in 1994, tells the story of a boy who grew up in Tanzania at the turn of the 20th century and was nominated for the Booker Prize, marking his breakthrough as a novelist.
“Abdulrazak Gurnah’s attachment to the truth and his aversion to simplification are striking,” said the Nobel Committee for Literature in a statement.
“His novels recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our eyes to a culturally diverse East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world.”
“[Ses] characters find themselves in a hiatus between cultures and continents, between a life that was and a life that is emerging; it is a state of insecurity that can never be resolved. “
Born in Zanzibar in 1948, Gurnah arrived in England as a refugee in the late 1960s.
He was Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at the University of Kent, Canterbury, until his recent retirement.
Gurnah is the first black African author to win the award since Wole Soyinka in 1986.
He believes his prize means that issues such as the refugee crisis and colonialism, which he experienced, will be “discussed.”
“These are things that are with us every day. People are dying, people are injured all over the world – we have to deal with these issues in the kindest way possible,” he says.
‘Much more violent’
“I came to England at a time when those words, as asylum seeker, weren’t quite the same – more people are struggling and fleeing terrorist states.”
“The world is a lot more violent than it was in the 1960s, so there is now more pressure on countries that are safe, they inevitably attract more people.”
In an interview in 2016, when asked if he would call himself an “author of postcolonial and / or world literature,” Gurnah replied, “I wouldn’t use any of those words. I wouldn’t qualify. no writer of any kind.
“Actually, I’m not sure I would qualify for anything besides my name. I guess if someone challenged me that would be another way of saying, ‘Are you one. .. a death… ? “. I would probably answer” no. “Precisely, I don’t want this part of me to have a reductive name.”
The Nobel Prizes, which have been awarded since 1901, recognize achievements in the fields of literature, science, peace and, more recently, economics.
Past laureates include novelists like Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison, poets like Pablo Neruda, Joseph Brodsky, and Rabindranath Tagore, and playwrights like Harold Pinter and Eugene O’Neill.
Last year’s award was won by American poet Louise Gluck.
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Who is Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Nobel laureate in literature – BBC news africa