Daily US Times: UK-based Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has been awarded this year’s Nobel prize in literature 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 grew up on one of the islands of Zanzibar and reached in England as a refugee in the 1960s. He has published 10 novels as well as a number of short stories. The chair of the Nobel committee, Anders Olsson, said that the Tanzanian writer’s novels, from his debut Memory of Departure, about a failed uprising, to his most recent, the “magnificent”, Afterlives, “recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world”.
Since Wole Soyinka in 1986, No black African writer has won the prize. Gurnah is the first Tanzanian writer to achieve the prize.
Paradise is Gurnah’s fourth novel, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994. Olsson said that it “has obvious reference to Joseph Conrad in its portrayal of the innocent young hero Yusuf’s journey to the heart of darkness”, but is also a coming of age tale, and a sad love story.
Olsson told gathered journalists in Stockholm that as a writer, Gurnah “has consistently and with great compassion penetrated the effects of colonialism in East Africa, and its effects on the lives of uprooted and migrating individuals”.
Gurnah was in the kitchen when he received the news of his win, said Olsson, and the committee had “a long and very positive” conversation with him.