Tanzanian novelist wins Nobel literature prize for 'uncompromising' work on colonialism

The writer Abdulrazak Gurnah won the Nobel Prize for Literature Thursday.

Gurnah was born on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, but came to Great Britain as a refugee in the 1960s and lives there today.

His work focuses on the experience and identity of refugees.

The Swedish Academy, which selects the winners, said it selected Gurnah “for his uncompromising and compassionate understanding of the effects of colonialism and the fate of refugees in the divide between cultures and continents”.

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A rocky few years follow for the prestigious award that went to American poet Louise Glück last year – a more popular choice after a series of controversies.

The award was postponed in 2018 after sexual abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy.

Protests erupted in 2019 after it was handed over to Austrian writer Peter Handke for his strong support for the Serbs during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

In 2016, the academy broke with tradition and presented the award to Bob Dylan, the first musician to win the award.

In addition to international recognition, Gurnah receives a gold medal and 10 million Swedish crowns (over 1.14 million US dollars). The money comes from the estate of the donor, the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

Gurnah was Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent in Great Britain until his recent retirement. In 1994 his novel “Paradise” was nominated for the Booker Prize.

Benjamin List from Germany and Scottish born David WC MacMillan received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday.

And on Tuesday, the Japanese-born American Syukuro Manabe, the German Klaus Hasselmann and the Italian Giorgio Parisi received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

On Monday, US scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Alexander Smith contributed.

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