For the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature Abdulrazak Gurnah, “refugees do not come empty-handed”

The Nobel Prize for Literature heads south. The Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded this Thursday by the Nobel Academy in Stockholm. The author of Paradise and Adieu Zanzibar was distinguished for its description “uncompromising and full of compassion for the effects of colonialism and the plight of refugees in the gulf that separates cultures and continents”, said his representative.

His work moves away from “stereotypical descriptions and opens our eyes to a culturally diverse East Africa that is poorly known in many parts of the world“, explained the jury.”A lot of these people who come, come out of necessity, and also frankly because they have something to give. They don’t come empty-handed“, reacted for his part the winner, calling for a change of outlook on”talented and energetic people“.

Born in 1948 in Zanzibar, Abdulrazak Gurnah arrived as a refugee at the age of 18 in the United Kingdom, at a time when Muslim minorities were being persecuted. Having become a professor of English and post-colonial literature at the University of Canterbury, he wrote ten novels and several short stories, in English but also in Swahili, his mother tongue.

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His novel Paradise was a finalist for the Booker Prize in 1994. He was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2005 and the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2006. His latest novel, Afterlives, was released in September 2020 across the Channel. Due to the bankruptcy of the Galaade publishing house in 2017, its books are now unavailable in France. Suffice to say that his Nobel should allow him to be reissued quickly.


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