Oaxaca.- Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday for his “uncompromising and compassionate insight into the effects of colonialism,” the Swedish academy said.
Born in Zanzibar and residing in England, Gurnah is a professor at the University of Kent. His novel “Paradise” was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994.
The disruption of the refugees, his own exile in the United Kingdom, his relationship with Tanzania, the country in which he was born and left, the meaning of memory, but without the oppression of nostalgia, his “interest in the effects of colonialism and the fate of refugees and their relationship with cultures and continents ”, as the Jury assured this Thursday, are the themes explored by the writer Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Mats Malm, secretary of the Swedish Academy, who was in charge of breaking the news, celebrated Gurnah’s dedication to the truth and her aversion to simplification, said that without their stories being bleak and uncompromising, they address the fate of people “with great compassion and unwavering commitment.”
“His novels depart from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unknown to many in other parts of the world. In the literary universe of Gurnah, everything is changing: memories, names, identities, “said Mats, during the announcement, adding that the narrator born in 1948 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, makes an endless exploration of refugees driven by his intellectual passion , elements that inhabit all his books and make his literature as alive as when he began to write at the age of 21, already as a refugee.
Of the novelist who has published 10 novels and several storybooks, the Swedish Academy also said that throughout his work he has strived to avoid the ever-present nostalgia for a pre-colonial Africa, and even though even the island where he was born has a history of trafficking. slaves and various forms of oppression under different colonial powers, the Academy pointed out that Gurhan consciously breaks with the conventional, overturning the colonial perspective to highlight the vision of indigenous populations.
Gurnah began writing at age 21 in English, after he arrived in England as a refugee in the late 1960s when he was 18 years old and was forced to leave his family and flee the newly formed Republic of Tanzania, to the one that was able to return until 1984, which allowed him to see his father shortly before he looked.
Arabic and Persian poetry, with works such as “The Thousand and One Nights”, were an early and significant source for him, as was the Koran, but what would mark his work would be literature in English, from Shakespeare to VS Naipaul, since the narrator has pointed out that in Zanzibar, his access to literature was practically nil, but it is in that universe where his work prevails.
He grew up on the island of Zanzibar but came to England as a refugee in the late 1960s. His work explores postcolonialism, as well as colonialism especially related to Africa, the Caribbean and India. Among his most recognized novels are “Paradise” (“Paradise”) from 1984, set in East Africa during World War I, finalist at the time for the Booker Prize and the Whitebread Prize, translated into Spanish, as well as “By the Sea ”(2001) and“ Desertion ”(2005).
From “Desertion”, which is about a love story, the Swedish Academy noted that the tale becomes a stark contradiction to what it has called “the imperial romance”, where a conventionally European hero returns home from romantic getaways in the foreigner, in which history reaches its inevitable and tragic resolution.
In biographical notes posted on the Swedish Academy’s website and signed by Anders Olsson, chairman of the Academy’s Nobel Committee, it is noted that Gurnah often allows his carefully constructed narratives to lead him to an elusive understanding, “in the Gurnah’s treatment of the refugee experience, the focus is on identity and self-image ”, which appears mostly in two of her novels“ Admiring Silence ”(1996) and“ By the Sea ”(2001).
In 1980 he entered Bayero Kano University in Nigeria. He then studied at the University of Kent where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1982. Until his recent retirement, Abdulrazak Gurnah had been a professor of English and post-colonial literature at the University of Kent, Canterbury.
The narrator who has won the highest award for literature, which consists of a medal and 10 million Swedish crowns (about 1.1 million dollars), will receive the award in his country of residence, due to the health crisis, at just as the Swedish Academy did last year with the American poet Louise Gluck.
The last ten winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature
This is the list of the last ten winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, attributed this Thursday in Stockholm to the Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah.
2021: Abdulrazak Gurnah (Tanzania)
2020: Louise Glück (United States)
2019: Peter Handke (Austria)
2018: Olga Tokarczuk (Poland)
2017: Kazuo Ishiguro (UK)
2016: Bob Dylan (United States)
2015: Svetlana Alexievich (Belarus)
2014: Patrick Modiano (France)
2013: Alice Munro (Canada)
2012: Mo Yan (China)
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2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Abdulrazak Gurnah