Abdulrazak Gurnah Is Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded on Thursday to Abdulrazak Gurnah for “his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”

Gurnah was born in Zanzibar, which is now a part of Tanzania, in 1948, however he at the moment lives in Britain. He left Zanzibar at age 18 as a refugee after a violent 1964 uprising in which troopers overthrew the nation’s authorities. He is the first African to win the award — thought of the most prestigious in world literature — in nearly 20 years.

He is the fifth total, after Wole Soyinka of Nigeria in 1986, Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt, who gained in 1988; and the South African winners Nadine Gordimer in 1991 and John Maxwell Coetzee in 2003.

Gurnah’s 10 novels embrace “Memory of Departure,” “Pilgrims Way” and “Dottie,” which all take care of the immigrant expertise in Britain; “Paradise,” shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994, a few boy in an East African nation scarred by colonialism; and “Admiring Silence,” a few younger man who leaves Zanzibar for England, the place he marries and turns into a trainer.

Gurnah’s first language is Swahili, however he adopted English as his literary language, together with his prose typically inflected with traces of Swahili, Arabic and German.

Anders Olsson, the chair of the committee that awards the prize, mentioned at the information convention on Thursday that Gurnah “is widely recognized as one of the world’s more pre-eminent post-colonial writers.” Gurnah “has consistently and with great compassion, penetrated the effects of colonialism in East Africa and its effects on the lives of uprooted and migrating individuals,” he added.

The characters in his novels, Olsson mentioned, “find themselves in the gulf between cultures and continents, between the life left behind and the life to come, confronting racism and prejudice, but also compelling themselves to silence the truth or reinventing biography to avoid conflict with reality.”

Laura Winters, writing in The New York Times in 1996, known as “Paradise” “a shimmering, oblique coming-of-age fable,” including that “Admiring Silence” was a piece that “skillfully depicts the agony of a man caught between two cultures, each of which would disown him for his links to the other.”

In an interview with the website Africainwords earlier this 12 months, Gurnah spoke about how, in his latest e book, “Afterlives,” he was in search of to light up how folks affected by struggle and colonialism are formed however not outlined by these experiences, and the way it grew out of tales he heard rising up in Zanzibar.

“I was surrounded by people who experienced these things firsthand and would talk about them,” he mentioned. “These stories have been with me all along and what I needed was time to organize them into this story. My scholarly work has also shaped these stories.”

Gurnah famous that all through his profession, he has been engaged with the questions of displacement, exile, identification and belonging.

“There are different ways of experiencing belonging and unbelonging. How do people perceive themselves as part of a community? How are some included and some excluded? Who does the community belong to?” he mentioned.

In the prelude to this 12 months’s award, the literature prize was known as out for missing range amongst its winners. The journalist Greta Thurfjell, writing in Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish newspaper, famous that 95 of the 117 past Nobel laureates had been from Europe or North America, and that solely 16 winners had been ladies. “Can it really continue like that?” she requested.

The American poet Louise Glück was awarded final 12 months’s literature prize for writing “that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal,” in keeping with the quotation from the Nobel committee. Her award was seen as a much-needed reset for the prize after a number of years of scandal.

In 2018, the academy postponed the prize after the husband of an academy member was accused of sexual misconduct and of leaking candidates’ names to bookmakers. The academy member’s husband, Jean-Claude Arnault, was later sentenced to two years in prison for rape.

The following 12 months, the academy awarded the delayed 2018 prize to Olga Tokarczuk, an experimental Polish novelist. But the academy got here in for criticism for giving the 2019 prize to Peter Handke, an Austrian writer and playwright who has been accused of genocide denial for questioning occasions throughout the Balkan Wars of the 1990s — together with the Srebrenica bloodbath, in which about 8,000 Muslim males and boys had been murdered.

Lawmakers in Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo denounced the determination, as did a number of high-profile novelists, together with Jennifer Egan and Hari Kunzru.

  • David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian had been awarded the prize in physiology or drugs on Monday for his or her discoveries about how folks sense warmth, chilly, contact and their very own bodily actions.

  • Three scientists whose work “laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it” had been awarded the prize for physics on Tuesday: Syukuro Manabe of Princeton University; Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany; and Giorgio Parisi of the Sapienza University of Rome

  • Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan had been awarded the chemistry prize on Wednesday for growing a extra environmentally pleasant device to construct molecules.

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