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The 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Zanzibar-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah for his novels about the violence and insults of colonialism And chaos and refugee experience.
Gulna was born in 1948 on the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar, now part of Tanzania, and came to the UK where he now lives as a refugee in the late 1960s. The Swedish Academy praised him for “with uncompromising and compassionate insights into the influence of colonialism and the fate of refugees in the gap between different cultures and continents.”
This is the fifth time that an African has won this prestigious literary award, and it is also the first black African writer to win the award since Nigerian novelist and playwright Wole Soyinka won the award in 1986.
In his 10 novels and numerous short stories, Gulner often deals with subjects such as exile, racism, and immigration. Although he mainly writes in English, his first language is Swahili, and his works are often interspersed with a small amount of Arabic and German.
In the book review of the British “Financial Times”, Gulner’s latest novel “Afterlives” published last year was described as “a book that portrays the beauty of tranquility and tragedy.” This novel, which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in political writing/political fiction (Orwell Prize in political writing/political fiction), tells the life trajectories of four characters in Eastern Africa during the German occupation period before Germany was defeated in the First World War. Intertwined stories.
The story unfolds between a provincial city that now belongs to Tanzania and the drill field and battlefield of the German Colonial Guard Force (Schutztruppe). Although the story is told in simple and lyrical language, the events it describes reveal shocking racism and violence, while never falling into clichés or allegorical preaching.
Narrative is always rooted in real human interaction. The central figures are ordinary people who are subject to events that they have little or no control over.
Many stories travel between different continents and cultures. “Admiring Silence” describes the difficulties faced by a young man who left Zanzibar for the UK to become a teacher there. Paradise, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994, tells the story of an East African boy who was traumatized by colonialism.
The chairman of the Nobel Prize Jury, Anders Olsson, said that Gurnah’s novels ranged from “Memory of Departure,” the debut novel about a failed uprising, to “magnificent.” The new work “The Afterlife” “avoids formulaic descriptions and directs our attention to a culturally diverse East Africa that many people in other parts of the world are not familiar with.”
“In Gurnah’s literary world, everything is changing-memory, name, identity,” he said. “In all his works, there is an endless exploration driven by intellectual passion. This feature is equally prominent both in the new work “The Afterlife” and when he started writing as a 21-year-old refugee.”