Gurnah wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature
The 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature was yesterday, awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah for his work on the impact of colonialism and the plight of refugees.
Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Mats Malm, who announced the award, said Gurnah clinched the prize “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
Since the publication of his novel, Paradise, in 1994, Gurnah has been one of the world’s most recognised post-colonial writers. In his 10 novels, he has consistently penetrated the effect of colonialism in East Africa.
Born on December 20, 1948 in Zanzibar, the Nobel Laureate went to Britain as a student in 1968, after fleeing Zanzibar at 18 to escape the persecution of Arab citizens during the Zanzibar Revolution.
He initially studied at Christ Church College, Canterbury, whose degrees were at the time awarded by the University of London.
The Tanzanian subsequently proceeded to the University of Kent, where he earned his PhD in 1982. From 1980 to 1983, he lectured at the Bayero University Kano (BUK), Nigeria. He was a professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Kent’s Department of English until his retirement.
His main academic interest is in postcolonial writing and in discourses associated with colonialism, especially as they relate to Africa, the Caribbean and India.
He has edited two volumes of essays on African writing and published articles on a number of contemporary post-colonial writers. He has served as a contributing editor to Wasafiri magazine since 1987.
In 2006, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
American poet and essayist, Louise Elisabeth Glück, won the 2020 Prize.