Zanzibar-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, 73, was on Thursday awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for 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”.
The prize is awarded by the Swedish Academy and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns.
The Academy said: “2021 literature laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah’s fourth novel Paradise (1994), his breakthrough as a writer, evolved from a research trip to East Africa around 1990. It is a coming of age account and a sad love story in which different worlds and belief systems collide.”
Gurnah is the author of 10 novels, including Desertion, and is a professor at the University of Kent. His novel Paradise was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994, and told the story of a boy growing up in Tanzania in the early 20th century. Gurnah himself arrived in the UK as a refugee in the late 1960s.
The Nobel Prizes, which have been awarded since 1901, recognise achievement in literature, science, peace and economics.
Winners over the years have included novelists such as Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison, poets such as Pablo Neruda, Joseph Brodsky and Rabindranath Tagore, and playwrights including Harold Pinter and Eugene O’Neill. Last year, the prize went to American poet Louise Gluck.