The Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 was awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Tanzanian, who becomes the first black writer in 35 years to win the award.
The Nobel Committee made the announcement on their website where they stated the award recognized him “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 is the first black African writer to win the prize since Wole Soyinka in 1986. He is also the first Tanzanian author to get the award.
The Tanzanian was a professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent in England before his retirement.
Abdulrazak Gurnah grew up on one of Zanzibar’s islands before fleeing persecution and enrolling as a student in England in the 1960s. He’s written ten books and a collection of short stories and is best known for his his 1994 novel “Paradise”, set in colonial East Africa during the First World War, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction.
The Nobel committee’s chair, Anders Olsson, said the Tanzanian writer’s novels “recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world,” from his debut, Memory of Departure, about a failed uprising, to his most recent, Afterlives.
A medal and an award of 10 million Swedish kronor (about 980,000 euros, $1.1 million) accompany the Nobel Prize.
Last year’s winner was Louise Gluck, a poet from the United States.
Gurnah would have received the Nobel Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of physicist Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896, who established the rewards in his last will and testament.
However, because to the pandemic, the in-person celebration has been canceled for the second year in a row and replaced by a televised ceremony in which the laureates receive their prizes in their home countries.