Tanzanian-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah on Oct. 7 won the Nobel Prize in literature for his unflinching portrayal of the effects of colonialism and the trauma of the refugee experience.
Gurnah, 72, grew up on the island of Zanzibar, now part of Tanzania, but arrived in Britain as a refugee in the late 1960s to escape revolution. He is the fifth African to win the Nobel literature prize.
The Swedish Academy said Gurnah was honored “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
“I am absolutely overwhelmed and proud. It was completely unexpected,” Gurnah told reporters. Earlier he had told the Nobel Prize website he was stunned to get the call from the Swedish Academy and “I thought it was a prank.”
On being a refugee and the burning issue of immigration he said: “I’ve written about the things that are happening in the world that I live in and at the moment the world that I live in envelops this issue, this concern. This is kind of the story of our time.”
Gurnah’s native language is Swahili but he writes in English. His 10 published novels include Memory of Departure, Pilgrims Way and Paradise. (AFP-Jiji, AP)