Abdulrazak Gurnah: accidental author and voice of displaced

Gurnah welcomed the Nobel Prize as sparking better dialogue of the problems he raises in his novels, such because the plight of refugees and colonialism

Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Tanzanian-born author awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, solid a critically acclaimed 35-year profession rooted in colonialism and immigration after arriving in Britain as a refugee.

The novelist was born on the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar, off the coast of east Africa, in 1948, and started writing after shifting to England as a refugee, the place he’s now based mostly.

“I am very surprised and humbled, and of course, I’m thrilled and honoured.”

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“It’s still sinking in that the Academy has chosen to highlight these themes which are present throughout my work. It’s important to address and speak about them,” he stated.

“The world is much more violent than it was in the 1960s, so there is now greater pressure on the countries that are safe,” he stated, stressing that “we must deal with these issues in the most kind way”.

“Many of these people who come, come out of need, and also because quite frankly they have something to give. They don’t come empty-handed. A lot of talented, energetic people who have something to give,” he stated.

“In a sense it was something I stumbled into rather than the fulfilment of a plan,” he instructed the newspaper in a 2004 interview.

But it was virtually one other 20 years earlier than he launched his debut novel, “Memory of Departure”, in 1987. “Pilgrims Way” adopted a 12 months later, and “Dottie” in 1990.

In the meantime, after two years at Bayero University Kano in Nigeria, he got here again to Britain and obtained his PhD in 1982 on the University of Kent, the place he labored till his retirement.

Critical recognition for his novels got here together with his fourth e book, “Paradise” (1994), which was set in colonial east Africa throughout World War I.

Gurnah’s 1996 work “Admiring Silence” recounts the story of a younger man who returns to Zanzibar 20 years after leaving for England, the place he married an Englishwoman and labored as a trainer.

“Gurnah’s narratives are all premised on the shattering impact that migration to a new geographical and social context has for his character’s identities,” he wrote on the British Council’s web site.

In 2001’s “By the Sea,” Gurnah follows Saleh Omar, an previous asylum-seeker who has simply arrived in Britain.

Publishers Weekly described the latter as a “haunting novel” containing “a strong plot with powerful musings on mortality, the weight of memory, and the struggle to establish a postcolonial identity”.

His newest novel, “Afterlives”, was launched final 12 months and tells the story of a younger boy who was offered to German colonial troops.

Gurnah edited “The Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie” in 2007, and retired as a Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures in 2017.

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