Nobel Literature Prize 2021: Abdulrazak Gurnah named winner
Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Tanzanian novelist, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2021.
The Academy lauded Gurnah for his “uncompromising and empathetic grasp of the impacts of colonialism” when announcing him as the winner on Thursday.
The Swedish Academy bestows the prize, which is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.14 million / £840,000).
Gurnah, who is 73 years old, has written ten books, including Paradise and Desertion.
In 1994, he received the Booker Prize for his novel Paradise, which detailed the narrative of a little boy growing up in Tanzania in the early twentieth century and marked his debut as a novelist.
“Abdulrazak Gurnah’s dedication to truth and his aversion to simplification is striking,” the Nobel Committee for Literature said in a statement.
His novels recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world.”
“[His] characters find themselves in a hiatus between cultures and continents, between a life that was and a life emerging; it is an insecure state that can never be resolved.”
Until his recent retirement, he was a Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury.
Since Wole Soyinka in 1986, Gurnah is the first black African author to win the award.
In an interview in 2016, when asked if he would call himself an “author of postcolonial and/or world literature”, Gurnah replied:
“I would not use any of those words. I wouldn’t call myself a something writer of any kind.“In fact, I am not sure that I would call myself anything apart from my name. I guess, if somebody challenges me, that would be another way of saying, ‘Are you a… one of these…?’ I would probably say ‘no’. Precisely, I don’t want that part of me having a reductive name.”
Since 1901, the Nobel Prizes have been presented for achievements in literature, science, peace, and, more recently, economics.
Novelists such as Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison have previously won the award, as have poets such as Pablo Neruda, Joseph Brodsky, and Rabindranath Tagore, and playwrights such as Harold Pinter and Eugene O’Neill.
Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister, won for his memoirs, Bertrand Russell for his philosophy, and Bob Dylan for his songwriting.
Louise Gluck, an American poet, earned the honour last year.
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