Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded with the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday “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 prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.14 million).

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Other favourites for the award include Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o, French writer Annie Ernaux, Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Canada’s Margaret Atwood and Antiguan-American writer Jamaica Kincaid.

Who is Abdulrazak Gurnah?

Abdulrazak Gurnah is a Tanzanian novelist who writes in English and is based in the United Kingdom. 

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The Canterbury resident, Gurnah is the author of nine novels: Memory of Departure, Pilgrims Way, Dottie, Paradise (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award), Admiring Silence, By the Sea (longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award), Desertion (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize) The Last Gift and Gravel Heart.

He was Professor of English at the University of Kent, and was a Man Booker Prize judge in 2016. He is also the associate editor of the journal ‘Wasafiri’.

Born in 1948 on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of East Africa, Gurnah came to the UK  as a student in 1968. 

His first three novels documented the experience of an immigrant in contemporary Britain. The fourth one – ‘Paradise’- is set in colonial East Africa during the First World War. ‘Admiring Silence’  tells the story of a man who leaves Zanzibar and emigrates to England where he marries and becomes a teacher and then a return to his native country 20 years later affects him and his marriage. 

In 2007 he edited The Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie.

On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize in physiology or medicine to Americans David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch.

The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded Tuesday to three scientists whose work found order in seeming disorder, helping to explain and predict complex forces of nature, including expanding our understanding of climate change.