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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel For Depicting Affect Of Colonialism, Migration

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STOCKHOLM:Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah received 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.

Primarily based in Britain and writing in English, Gurnah, 72, joins Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka as the one two non-white writers from sub-Saharan Africa ever to win what’s extensively seen because the world’s most prestigious literary award.

His novels embody “Paradise”, set in colonial East Africa throughout World Warfare One and short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and “Desertion.”

“Gurnah’s itinerant characters in England or on the African continent discover themselves within the gulf between cultures and continents, between the life left behind and the life to come back,” Anders Olsson, head of the Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee for Literature, instructed reporters.

“I dedicate this Nobel Prize to Africa and Africans and to all my readers. Thanks!” Gurnah tweeted after the announcement.

Gurnah instructed Reuters by phone that the prize was “such an entire shock that I actually needed to wait till I heard it introduced earlier than I might consider it.”

He left Africa as a refugee within the Nineteen Sixties amid the persecution of residents of Arab origin on the Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar, which might unite with the mainland territory Tanganyika to type Tanzania. He was in a position to return solely in 1984, seeing his father shortly earlier than his demise.

His choice for the highest honour in literature comes at a time of worldwide tensions round migration, as tens of millions of individuals flee violence and poverty in locations comparable to Syria, Afghanistan and Central America, or are displaced by local weather change, usually taking super dangers throughout their passages.

Olsson mentioned the committee’s alternative was not a response to current headlines, and it had been following Gurnah’s work for years.

In an interview afterward Thursday with Reuters, Gurnah, nevertheless, expressed amazement on the decision and braveness of those that travelled thus far to flee their very own international locations for a brand new life.

“This in some way is constructed as if it’s immoral – you understand they use this phrase ‘financial migrant’ – as if to be an financial migrant is a few sort of crime. Why not?”

“Tens of millions of Europeans over centuries left their houses for exactly that motive and invaded the world for exactly for that motive,” he mentioned in his backyard within the English metropolis of Canterbury.


Although Swahili was his first language, English grew to become Gurnah’s literary software when he started writing on the age of 21.

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 burdened that he consciously breaks with conference, upending the colonial perspective to focus on that of the indigenous populations,” mentioned the academy, a 235-year-old Swedish language institute which awards the prize and the ten million Swedish crowns ($1.14 million) that go together with it.

This was the second straight 12 months that the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to a author in English, and the fourth of the final six, an unusually lengthy stretch for the prize to be dominated by a single language.

In an interview with the Academy, Gurnah mentioned many Europeans misunderstood the thought of migration.

“When many of those individuals who come, come out of each want, and likewise as a result of, fairly frankly, they’ve one thing to offer,” he mentioned. “They don’t come empty-handed. A whole lot of them are proficient, energetic individuals who have one thing to offer.”

“In order that could be one other mind-set about it. You aren’t simply taking folks in as if they’re poverty-stricken nothings.”

Eliah Mwaifuge, a professor of literature at Tanzania’s College of Dar es Salaam, mentioned Gurnah “actually deserves this award,” though the author’s work was higher recognized overseas than in Tanzania itself.


Peter Morey, a professor within the College of Birmingham’s Division of English Literature, singled out Gurnah’s “fearless understanding of the connections between folks and locations and the way they modify over time within the face of the boundaries and borders designed to maintain them aside.”

“In considered one of his novels he describes the reminiscence of the exile as being ‘a dim, gutted warehouse with rotting planks and rusted ladders the place you spend time rifling by means of deserted items,’” Morey mentioned.

Since Soyinka grew to become the primary African to win the prize in 1986, it has been received by Egypt’s Naguib Mahfouz and three white African writers – South Africans Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee, and Doris Lessing, who was raised in British-ruled Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

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

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

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

($1 = 8.7856 Swedish crowns)

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