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Abdulrazak Gurnah Biography, Wiki, Age, Career, Family & More | Who is Nobel Prize Winner Abdulrazak Gurnah?

Who is Abdulrazak Gurnah?

Abdulrazak Gurnah is a novelist who was born in Zanzibar and moved to the United Kingdom as a refugee in the 1960s. His novels include Paradise (1994), which was shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prize; Desertion (2005); and By the Sea (2001), which was longlisted for the Booker and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2021 “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fates of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”.

Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah wins Nobel Prize in Literature
Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Zanzibar-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah won 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,” the Swedish Academy announced Thursday morning.

The award comes with more than $1 million in prize money.

Gurnah was born in 1948. He was previously a professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, until his retirement.

Gurnah has written 10 novels, including 1994’s Paradise, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It tells the story of a boy, Yusuf, who’s been pawned off by his father to a merchant to settle old debts. As Yusuf is taken through different parts of Africa, Gurnah’s writing pushes back against previous Western takes on the continent. As NPR’s book critic Alan Cheuse noted at the time, “No Heart of Darkness in these pages. Gurnah gives us a more realistic mix of light and dark, of beautiful forests, dangerous vines and snakes, and a patchwork of warring fiefdoms and wily traders right out of the Middle Ages.”

Abdulrazak Gurnah Biography, Wiki

Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in 1948 on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of East Africa.

He came to Britain as a student in 1968 and now teaches literature at the University of Kent. He is associate editor of the journal Wasafiri.

His first three novels, Memory of Departure (1987), Pilgrims Way (1988) and Dottie (1990), document the immigrant experience in contemporary Britain from different perspectives. His fourth novel, Paradise (1994), is set in colonial East Africa during the First World War and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. 

Admiring Silence (1996) tells the story of a young man who leaves Zanzibar and emigrates to England where he marries and becomes a teacher. A return visit to his native country 20 years later profoundly affects his attitude towards both himself and his marriage. By the Sea (2001), is narrated by Saleh Omar, an elderly asylum-seeker living in an English seaside town.

Abdulrazak Gurnah lives in Brighton, East Sussex. His latest novels are Desertion (2005), shortlisted for a 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and The Last Gift (2011).

In 2007 he edited The Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie.

Abdulrazak Gurnah Biography
Abdulrazak Gurnah
Full NameAbdulrazak Gurnah
Born20 December 1948 (age 72)
Zanzibar
EducationCanterbury Christ Church University (BA)
University of Kent (MA, PhD)
GenreFiction
Notable worksParadise (1994)Desertion (2005)
Notable awardsNobel Prize in Literature (2021)

Abdulrazak Gurnah Education

Abdulrazak went to the United Kingdom in 1968 to carry out his studies. He earned his PhD in 1982 from the University of Kent.

Abdulrazak Gurnah Profession

Gurnah lectured at Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria from 1980-82. He is currently a professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English at the University of Kent.

Abdulrazak Gurnah Nobel Prize 2021

Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 7, 2021 “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fates of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”

Abdulrazak Gurnah Awards

Gurnah was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006. On 7 October 2021, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2021 “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fates of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”.

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Novel Themes

Much of Gurnah’s work is set on the coast of East Africa. Literary critic Bruce King argues that Gurnah’s novels place East African protagonists in their broader international context, observing that, in Gurnah’s fiction, “Africans have always been part of the larger, changing world”. According to King, Gurnah’s characters are often uprooted, alienated, unwanted and therefore are, or feel resentful victims”. 

Felicity Hand suggests that Gurnah’s novels Admiring Silence, By the Sea, and Desertion all concern “the alienation and loneliness that emigration can produce and the soul-searching questions it gives rise to about fragmented identities and the very meaning of ‘home’.” She observes that Gurnah’s characters typically do not succeed abroad following their migration, using irony and humor to respond to their situation.

Abdulrazak Gurnah Bibliography

  • 2011 The Last Gift
  • 2007 The Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie
  • 2005 Desertion
  • 2001 By the Sea
  • 1996 Admiring Silence
  • 1994 Paradise
  • 1993 Essays in African Literature: A Re-evaluation
  • 1990 Dottie
  • 1988 Pilgrim’s Way
  • 1987 Memory of Departure

Abdulrazak Gurnah FAQ’s

Who is Abdulrazak Gurnah?

Abdulrazak Gurnah is a novelist who was born in Zanzibar and moved to the United Kingdom as a refugee in the 1960s. His novels include Paradise (1994), which was shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prize; Desertion (2005); and By the Sea (2001), which was longlisted for the Booker and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

What prize did Abdulrazak Gurnah win?

Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 7, 2021 “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fates of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”

What is Abdulrazak Gurnah’s age?

Currently, Abdulrazak Gurnah is 73 years old.

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