Abdulrazak Gurnah Wins Nobel Prize In Literature

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, for his work in illuminating the effects of colonialism.

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On Thursday morning, the Swedish Academy announced that the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature is the ever compelling Abdulrazak Gurnah “[f]or his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”

According to NPR, the last Black author to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature was Toni Morrison in 1993. Additionally, Gurnah will be the fifth author from Africa to be awarded the prestigious prize. He was born in Zanzibar, now part of present-day Tanzania, in 1948, and left during the Zanzibar Revolution at 18 and arrived in England as a refugee. Until his retirement, Gurnah was a professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Kent.


The author of ten novels, Gurnah, is known for his authentic narrative style and his dedication to truth. His 1994 novel, Paradise, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and tells the story of a boy called Yusuf and through his story, the veil placed by colonialism is drawn and we see an Africa untethered by Western limits and stereotypes.

For more on Abdulrazak Gurnah’s writing and bibliography, check out the Nobel Prize website. For more on past Nobel Prize winners, take a look at Zariah’s article and Jake McDaniel’s article.