Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the 5th African to win the Literature prize.
The Swedish Academy awarded, Gurnah the prestigious prize on Thursday, commending 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”.
73-year-old Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in Zanzibar but has been based in England. He reportedly started writing as a 21-year-old refugee. He arrived in the UK as a refugee in the 1960s during the Zanzibar Revolution.
He has published 10 novels and a number of 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 for Fiction.
Much of Gurnah’s work is set on the coast of East Africa, and all but one of his novels’ protagonists were born in Zanzibar.
Other Africans to win the Nobel prize in literature are Wole Soyinka of Nigeria in 1986, Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt in 1988; and the South African winners Nadine Gordimer in 1991 and John Maxwell Coetzee in 2003.
The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.14m).