Copies of “Afterlives” by Tanzanian-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah are displayed at Waterstones bookshop in central London on October 7, 2021. 

STOCKHOLM: Tanzanian-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah on Thursday received the Nobel Literature Prize for unflinchingly portraying the results of colonialism and the trauma of the refugee expertise in his novels.

Gurnah, 72, who grew up on the island of Zanzibar however arrived in England as a refugee within the late 1960s to flee revolution, is the fifth African to win the Nobel Literature Prize.

The Swedish Academy mentioned Gurnah was honoured “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the results of colonialism and the destiny of the refugee within the gulf between cultures and continents.”

The top of the Academy’s Nobel committee, Anders Olsson, mentioned his writings had explicit resonance with a report 82 million individuals fleeing wars, persecution and violence in 2020.

Gurnah instructed the Nobel Prize web site he was shocked to get the decision from the Swedish Academy.

“I believed it was a prank,” he mentioned. “This stuff are often floated for weeks beforehand… so it was not one thing that was in my thoughts,” he mentioned.

He has printed 10 novels and quite a few quick tales.

“His writings are extraordinarily attention-grabbing proper now for a lot of, many individuals in Europe and all over the world,” Olsson instructed reporters.

“In all his work, Gurnah has striven to keep away from the ever-present nostalgia for a extra pristine pre-colonial Africa,” the Academy mentioned.

His itinerant characters “discover themselves in a hiatus between cultures and continents, between a life that was and a life rising; it’s an insecure state that may by no means be resolved,” it added.

Writer ‘by no means anticipated it’

The theme of the refugee’s disruption runs all through his work, with a deal with identification and self-image, additionally obvious within the 1996 novel “Admiring Silence” and “By the Sea” from 2001.

Tanzania hailed his win Thursday as a “victory” for the nation and the African continent.

“You’ve actually carried out justice to your occupation, your victory is for Tanzania and Africa,” the federal government’s chief spokesperson mentioned on Twitter.

After his win, Gurnah urged Europe to see African refugees as individuals who “come out of want” and who “fairly frankly… have one thing to provide.”

“They don’t come empty-handed. A variety of proficient, energetic individuals who have one thing to provide,” Gurnah instructed the Nobel Basis in an interview.

The announcement additionally caught Gurnah’s Swedish writer off guard.

“I could have heard somebody recommend as soon as that his books had been of Nobel calibre. However I by no means anticipated him to get it,” Henrik Celander instructed Swedish information company TT.

Born in 1948, Gurnah fled Zanzibar in 1968 following the revolution there which led to oppression and the persecution of residents of Arab origin.

He started writing as a 21-year-old in England. Though Swahili was his first language, English grew to become his literary software.

Gurnah is greatest identified for his 1994 breakthrough novel “Paradise”, set in colonial East Africa throughout World Warfare I and which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction.

Western dominance

The novel has apparent references to English writer Joseph Conrad’s famed 1902 novel “Coronary heart of Darkness” in its portrayal of the harmless younger hero Yusuf’s journey to Central Africa and the Congo Basin.

Creator Adam Shafi Adam, additionally from Zanzibar, instructed AFP it was “massive information for a Tanzanian to win a Nobel Prize in literature … one of the prestigious prizes on the planet.”

His books “give image of the East African coast throughout the colonial interval and the way it was after the revolution in Zanzibar.”

Gurnah has till his current retirement been Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures on the College of Kent in Canterbury, focusing principally on writers akin to Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Salman Rushdie.

The Nobel Prize comes with a medal and a sum of 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.1 million).

Final 12 months, the award went to US poet Louise Gluck.

Forward of Thursday’s announcement, Nobel watchers had steered the Swedish Academy might select to provide the nod to a author from Asia or Africa, following a pledge to make the prize extra various in gender and geography.

It has topped primarily Westerners in its 120-year existence.

“Beforehand, we had a extra Eurocentric perspective of literature, and now we’re trying everywhere in the world,” Nobel committee head Olsson mentioned in 2019.

However on the finish of the day, “literary advantage” continues to be “absolutely the and the one criterion,” he mentioned in an interview with The New Republic printed this week.

The Nobel season continues Friday in Oslo with the Peace Prize, adopted Monday by the Economics Prize.

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