Tanzanian Author Abdulrazak Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature

Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah, 72 has won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Gumah was announced winner by the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Mats Malm in an event held in Stockholm on Thursday.

“I’m absolutely excited,” he told The Associated Press. “I just heard the news myself.” The award giving body, Swedish Academy, further explained in a tweet why the Zanzibar-born author deserved the recognition.

“The 2021 #NobelPrize in Literature is awarded to the novelist 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,” the tweet read.

The Nobel Prize in Literature, which started in 1901, has been in honor of writers who have “in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.”

Gurmah is the third African writer to win the award. Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka broke the jinx in 1986 and Zimbabwean Doris Lessing won the award in 2007.

With the win, Gurnah will be awarded a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.14m).

Staying in the kitchen of his home in Southeast England as he received the call from the Swedish Academy, Gurmah expressed how he felt about winning the award.

“I think it’s just brilliant and wonderful,” he said “It’s just great – it’s just a big prize, and such a huge list of wonderful writers – I am still taking it in,” he said.

“It was such a complete surprise that I really had to wait until I heard it announced before I could believe it.”

Gurmah recently retired from his role as a professor of post-colonial literature at the University of Kent. He has in his published catalogue 10 novels and several short stories.

He is best known for his 1994 novel “Paradise”, set in colonial East Africa during World War I, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Prize. He published the novel “Afterlives” in 2020.

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