Rediscover: Abdulrazak Gurnah

Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, who lives in England, won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature last week. The Swedish Academy cited 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." Gurnah was born on the island of Zanzibar in 1948, which after independence from Britain in 1963 underwent a revolution and unification with Tanganyika to become Tanzania. During the revolution, citizens of Arab origin were persecuted, and Gurnah fled to Britain. Until his recent retirement, Gurnah was Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent in Canterbury, focusing on writers such as Wole Soyinka, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Salman Rushdie.

Gurnah is the author of 10 novels and a range of short stories. Among his novels, Paradise was shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prizes; By the Sea was longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Desertion was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. Several of his recent titles are available in the U.S. from Bloomsbury USA, including The Last Gift (reviewed by Shelf Awareness in 2014).

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