Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has been named the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, praised by the Academy for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism.”
“It’s just great – it’s just a big prize, and such a huge list of wonderful writers – I am still taking it in,” Gurnah said, BBC reported.
“It was such a complete surprise that I really had to wait until I heard it announced before I could believe it.”
Gurnah, 73, is a Zanzibari novelist who arrived in England as a refugee in late 1960s. He is the author of 10 novels, including Paradise and Desertion.
His novel Paradise, told the story of a boy growing up in Tanzania in the early 20th Century and was nominated for the Booker Prize, marking his breakthrough as a novelist.
“Abdulrazak Gurnah’s dedication to truth and his aversion to simplification are striking,” the Nobel Committee for Literature said in a statement.
“His novels recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world.”
“[His] characters find themselves in a hiatus between cultures and continents, between a life that was and a life emerging; it is an insecure state that can never be resolved.”
Muslims and Nobel Prize
Gurnah is the first black African author to win the Nobel prize in literature since Nigerian Wole Soyinka received the award in 1986.
But as a Muslim, he is not the first one to get the prestigious award.
In 1988, Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz got the award for his contributions to the Arabic literature.
Turkish author Orhan Pamuk also received the award in 2006.
In chemistry, two Muslims also received the Nobel prize award, i.e. Egyptian-American Ahmed Zewail in 1999 and Turkish-American Aziz Sancar in 2015.
In physics, Pakistani scientist Mohammad Abdus Salam also got the award in 1979.