Abdulrazak Gurnah has been offered the 2021 Nobel prize for literature. The Tanzanian novelist, who’s based inside the UK, was provided the prize for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the consequences of colonialism and the destiny of the refugee inside the gulf among cultures and continents”.
Migration and cultural uprooting along with the cultural and ethnic diversity of East Africa are at the heart of Gurnah’s fiction. They have also shaped his non-public existence.
Born in Zanzibar in 1948, Gurnah got here in Britain in the 1960s as a refugee. Being of Arab beginning, he changed into pressure to escape his birthplace for the duration of the revolution of 1964 and only returned in 1984 in time to visit his demise father. Until his retirement, he changed into a complete-time professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury.
Gurnah left Africa as a refugee within the 1960s, he became best able to return to Zanzibar in 1984. Alamy
Gurnah has written ten novels up to now, along with the Booker-nominated Paradise in 1994 and By the Sea in 2001. His maximum current novel, Afterlives, becomes defined through the Sunday Times as “an aural archive of a misplaced Africa”, and indeed the outlet pages of this and lots of his other works take the reader directly into the area of oral storytelling.
“Afterlives” is set towards the backdrop of German rule in east Africa within the early 20th century. It tells the story of a young boy bought to German colonial troops. The novel turned into shortlisted for the 2021 Orwell prize for political fiction and longlisted for the Walter Scott prize for ancient fiction.
Gurnah’s work is attentive to the anxiety among private tales and collective records. In unique, “Afterlives” asks readers to consider the afterlife of colonialism and conflict and its durable consequences, not handiest on countries but perhaps, on people and households.
His writing is heavily inspired by the cultural and ethnic diversity of his native Zanzibar. Shaped by its geographical place in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa, it changed into the center of the main Indian Ocean change routes.
The island attracted traders and colonists from what became then known as Arabia (present day-day Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the UAE), South Asia, the African mainland, and later Europe.
Abdulrazak Gurnah is a Tanzanian novelist primarily based in the UK. Almay
Gurnah’s writing reflects this diversity with its many voices and its variety of references to literary sources. Most of all, it insists on hybridity and variety within the face of Afrocentrism, which ruled the east African independence actions within the twentieth century.
His first novel, Memory of Departure, posted in 1987, is ready around the time Gurnah left Zanzibar. A coming-of-age story in the shape of a memoir, it follows the protagonist’s tries to leave his birthplace and look overseas.
His novel Paradise is in addition conceived as a coming-of-age narrative, though set in advance in time, at the flip of the 19th and starting of the twentieth century when Europeans have been beginning to set up colonies on the East African coast. Paradise additionally addresses home slavery in Africa, with a bonded slave as the primary person.
Above all, Paradise highlights the outstanding diversity of Gurnah’s literary repertoire, bringing collectively references to Swahili texts, Quranic and biblical traditions, as well as the work of Joseph Conrad.
A slender street in Zanzibar, Tanzania, wherein Gurnah become born. Alamy
Gurnah’s work, with its diverse textual references and its attentiveness to information, displays and touches on wider issues in postcolonial literature. His novels recollect the deliberate erasure of African narratives and perspectives as one predominant result of European colonialism.
In highlighting conversations among the individual and the document of history, Gurnah’s work has similarities to Salman Rushdie – some other postcolonial creator who’s equally aware of the relationship between personal memory and the larger narratives of history. Indeed, along with his novels, Gurnah is likewise the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie, published in 2007.
Gurnah’s books ask: how will we recall a past deliberately eclipsed and erased from the colonial archive? Many postcolonial writers from diverse backgrounds have addressed this trouble, from the aforementioned Rushdie to the Jamaican author Michelle Cliff, each of whom pitches non-public reminiscence and tale against collective records authored using those in strength.
Gurnah’s work keeps this communication approximately the long shadow of colonialism and employs a variety of textual traditions within the technique of commemorating erased narratives