‘The template of the refugee’s disruption run throughout his work’ … Abdulrazak Gurnah. Photograph: Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images
‘The design template of the refugee’s disruption run throughout his work’ … Abdulrazak Gurnah. Photograph: Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images

The Nobel prize in literature has been awarded come the novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration the the results of colonialism and the fate the the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”.

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Gurnah prospered up on among the islands of Zanzibar prior to fleeing persecution and arriving in England as a student in the 1960s. He has published 10 novels as well as a number of short stories. Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel committee, claimed that the Gurnah’s novels – native his debut storage of Departure, around a failure uprising, come his many recent, Afterlives – “recoil from stereotypical descriptions and also open ours gaze to a culturally diversified east Africa unfamiliar to countless in various other parts of the world”.


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Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images“He is just one of the greatest living african writers, and no one has ever taken any notice of him and it’s just killed me. Ns did a podcast critical week and in it I said that that was one of the people that has been just ignored. And also now this has happened,” she said.

Pringle said Gurnah had constantly written about displacement, “but in the most beautiful and also haunting means of what the is the uproots people and blows them across continents”.

“It’s not always asylum seeking, it deserve to be so many reasons, it can be trade, it have the right to be commerce, it can be education, it have the right to be love,” she said. “The first of his novels ns took on at Bloomsbury is referred to as By the Sea, and also there’s this haunting picture of a guy at Heathrow airport v a sculpted incense box, and also that’s all he has. The arrives, and also he states one word, and also that’s ‘asylum’.”

Pringle said Gurnah is as necessary a writer together Chinua Achebe. “His creating is particularly beautiful and also grave and also humorous and also kind and also sensitive. He is an extraordinary writer writing around really crucial things.”

Afterlives, released last year, speak the story the Ilyas, that was stolen from his parental by German early american troops as a boy and also returns to his town after years fighting in a war versus his very own people. It was described in the Guardian as “a compelling novel, one that gathers close all those that were meant to it is in forgotten, and refuses their erasure”.

“In Gurnah’s literary universe, everything is changing – memories, names, identities. This is probably because his task cannot reach completion in any type of definitive sense,” claimed Olsson. “An unending expedition driven by intellectual passion is existing in every his books, and also equally influential now, in Afterlives, as once he began writing as a 21-year-old refugee.”


Maya Jaggi, critic and also 2021 Costa Prize judge said: “Gurnah, who I very first interviewed because that the Guardian in 1994, is a an effective and nuanced writer whose elliptical lyricism counters the silences and lies the imperial history imposed once he to be a boy in eastern Africa. His ethereal oeuvre is together robust about the brutal flaws that the mercantile society he left as the atrocities that British and also German colonialism, no least throughout the very first world war, and also the ‘random plot of terror’ he experienced as a black human being in brother - convert them into a comic triumph in his 1988 novel Pilgrims Way.”

Gurnah to be born in 1948, growing up in Zanzibar. Once Zanzibar went with a transformation in 1964, citizens of Arab origin were persecuted, and Gurnah was forced to flee the country when he to be 18. He started to create as a 21-year-old refugees in England, picking to compose in English, back Swahili is his an initial language. His first novel, storage of Departure, was released in 1987. He has until newly been professor that English and postcolonial literatures in ~ the college of Kent, until his retirement.

Worth 10m sweden krona (£840,000), the Nobel prize for literature goes to the writer understood to be, in the native of Alfred Nobel’s will, “the human who candlestick have created in the ar of literary works the most outstanding work-related in an ideal direction”. Winners have ranged indigenous Bob Dylan, cited for “having created brand-new poetic expressions within the an excellent American song tradition”, to Kazuo Ishiguro “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.According come Ellen Mattson, who sits ~ above the swedish Academy and also the Nobel committee: “Literary merit. It is the only thing the counts.”

The Nobel winner is liked by the 18 members that the swedish Academy – one august and also mysterious organisation that has made efforts to become more transparent ~ it to be hit by a sex-related abuse and financial misconduct scandal in 2017. Critical year’s prize checked out the American poet Louise Glück – an uncontroversial an option after the uproar provoked by the Austrian writer Peter Handke’s win in 2019. Handke had denied the Srebrenica genocide and attended the funeral of war criminal Slobodan Milošević.

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The Nobel prize because that literature has been awarded 118 times. Simply 16 the the awards have actually gone come women, seven of those in the 21st century. In 2019, the sweden academy promised the compensation would become less “male-oriented” and “Eurocentric”, but proceeded to provide its following two prizes to two Europeans, Handke and also Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk.