Nobel Prize for Literature announced: Abdulrazak Gurnah becomes the first black awardee in 35 years

The Tanzanian novelist, who came to the UK as a refugee, was recognised for his work on the effects of colonialism through the decades
Pic: Edex Live
Pic: Edex Live

The Nobel Prize for Literature this year was awarded to Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah. The Nobel Assembly announced the award on October 7 in Stockholm, and commended the 73-year-old author, who is now based in the United Kingdom for his "uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism". He is only the second black awardee of the Nobel Prize for Literature since Wole Soyinka won it way back in 1986.

Born in 1948 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar in East Africa, Gurnah moved to the UK as a refugee in 1968. He earned his PhD in 1982 from the University of Kent. He recently retired from his post as Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at the same varsity in Canterbury. Gurnah has written ten novels to date. He has also been involved in various projects on other postcolonial writers, including Indian-origin author Salman Rushdie.

Gurnah has always shown a keen interest in post-colonial literature around Africa, the Caribbean and India. Gurnah's bestselling book, Paradise, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994. The novel follows a young boy in Tanzania on a journey across the Congo Basin and also explores the impact of World War I on the young men in Africa who were forcibly conscripted by the German Army. The book is often applauded for bringing to the fore a fresh perspective of the life and landscapes in Africa that are far removed from the hues of the Western narratives.

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