Mobility in Literature: Abdulrazak Gurnah, former refugee, wins the Nobel Literature Prize 2021

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Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has said he was "surprised and humbled" to be awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature. Gurnah, born in Zanzibar in 1948 and arriving in England as a refugee in the late 1960s, is an author, professor and now a Nobel Prize winner. Gurnah, 73, is the author of 10 novels, including Paradise and Desertion. Until his recent retirement, he was a Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

The Swedish Academy praised Gurnah for his "uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism". Paradise, published in 1994, 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."

Gurnah has said that his award would mean issues such as the refugee crisis and colonialism, which he has experienced, will be discussed. 

"These are things that are with us every day. People are dying, people are being hurt around the world - we must deal with these issues in the most kind way," Gurnah said.

We celebrate the voices and experiences of those who have experienced displacement, mobility, migration and movement.

Read the full BBC article.