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Tanzanian writer wins Nobel Prize in literature

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Nobel Prize in Literature

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s works show an uncompromising description of the effects of colonialism in Africa and its peoples.


Tanzanian-born writer Abdulrazak Gurnah has won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Swedish Academy announced the name of Gurnah last Thursday, says a report in the Telesur newsletter.

“I congratulate Abdulrazak Gurnah for winning the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature. The prize is an honour to you, our Tanzanian nation, and Africa in general,” Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan tweeted.

In awarding the Prize, the Swedish Academy pointed out Gurnah’s “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”.

Born in Zanzibar and based in England, Gurnah has recently retired as a professor of postcolonial literature at the University of Kent.

“Zanzibar underwent a revolution in 1964 in which citizens of Arab origin were persecuted. Gurnah was forced to flee the country when he was 18.

He began to write in English as a 21-year-old refugee in England, although Kiswahili is his first language. His first novel, Memory of Departure, was published in 1987,” the World Economic Forum (WEF) recalled.

He has published 10 novels and a number of short stories. He is known for his 1994 novel “Paradise,” set in colonial East Africa during World War I, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction.

“Until today, the last Black person awarded the prize was Toni Morrison in 1993. Gurnah is the fifth writer from Africa to win — joining Wole Soyinka, Naguib Mahfouz, Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee,” NPR pointed out.

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