Tanzania’s Gurnah, novelist of colonialism and refuge, wins 2021 Nobel By Reuters


© Reuters. Professor Anders Olsson, member of the Swedish Academy, provides a speech presenting the winner of this 12 months’s Nobel Prize in Literature through the Nobel Prize ceremony within the Golden Corridor of Stockholm, Sweden, December 10, 2020. Because of the coronavirus disea


By Niklas Pollard and Johan Ahlander

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, 72, gained the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the consequences of colonialism and the destiny of the refugee,” the award-giving physique mentioned on Thursday.

Based mostly in Britain, Gurnah is the primary African author to win the award because the Zimbabwean Doris Lessing in 2007, and solely the second author of color from sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka, who gained in 1986.

His novels embrace “Paradise”, which is about in colonial East Africa through the First World Struggle and was short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and “Desertion”.

“In his ten novels he has constantly, and with nice compassion, penetrated the consequences of colonialism in East Africa and its results on the lives of uprooted and migrating people,” Anders Olsson, head of the Swedish Academy Nobel Committee, advised reporters.

Gurnah left Africa as a refugee within the Sixties amid the persecution of residents of Arab origin below President Abeid Karume’s regime in Zanzibar the place he grew up, when the peaceable liberation from British colonial rule led to a revolution.

He was solely in a position to return to Zanzibar in 1984, permitting him to see his father shortly earlier than his loss of life.

His choice for the highest honour in literature comes at a time of world tensions round migration, as tens of millions of individuals flee violence and poverty in locations akin to Syria, Afghanistan and Central America, or are displaced by local weather change. Olsson mentioned the committee’s selection was not a response to current headlines, and it had been following Gurnah’s work for years.

“I believe its simply good and fantastic,” Gurnah advised Reuters when requested how he felt to win the prize. “It is simply nice – its only a massive prize, and such an enormous record of fantastic writers – I’m nonetheless taking it in,” he mentioned.

“It was such a whole shock that I actually needed to wait till I heard it introduced earlier than I may imagine it.”

Although Swahili was his first language, English turned Gurnah’s literary instrument when he started writing as a 21-year-old.

He has drawn inspiration from Arabic and Persian poetry in addition to the Koran, however the English-language custom, from William Shakespeare to V. S. Naipaul, would particularly mark his work, the Swedish Academy mentioned.


“That mentioned, it should be harassed that he consciously breaks with conference, upending the colonial perspective to spotlight that of the indigenous populations,” mentioned the academy, a 235-year-old Swedish language institute which awards the ten million Swedish crowns ($1.14 million) prize.

Gurnah’s was the second literature Nobel in a row, and the fourth of the final six, to go to a author in English, an unusually lengthy stretch for the prize to be dominated by a single language.

The prizes, for achievements in science, literature and peace, had been created by means of a bequest within the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and rich businessman Alfred Nobel. They’ve been awarded since 1901, with the ultimate prize within the line-up – economics – a later addition.

Previous literature winners have primarily been novelists akin to Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison, poets akin to Pablo Neruda, Joseph Brodsky and Rabindranath Tagore, or playwrights akin to Harold Pinter and Eugene O’Neill.

However writers have additionally gained for our bodies of labor that embrace quick fiction, historical past, essays, biography or journalism. Winston Churchill gained for his memoirs, Bertrand Russell for his philosophy and Bob Dylan for his lyrics. Final 12 months’s award was gained by American poet Louise Gluck.

Past the prize cash and status, the Nobel literature award generates an unlimited quantity of consideration for the successful creator, typically spurring guide gross sales and introducing much less well-known winners to a broader worldwide public.

($1 = 8.7856 Swedish crowns)

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