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I just want to write as trustfully Nobel Laureate


“I just want to write as trustfully as I can, without trying to say something noble."


Abdulrazak Gurnah - awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature - was born in 1948 and grew up on the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean but arrived in England as a refugee in the end of the 1960s. After the peaceful liberation from British colonial rule in December 1963, Zanzibar went through a revolution which, under President Abeid Karume’s regime, led to oppression and persecution of citizens of Arab origin; massacres occurred. Gurnah belonged to the victimised ethnic group and after finishing school was forced to leave his family and flee the country, by then the newly formed Republic of Tanzania. He was eighteen years old. Not until 1984 was it possible for him to return to Zanzibar, allowing him to see his father shortly before the father’s death.


In his work, Gurnah’s dedication to truth and his aversion to simplification are striking. This can make him bleak and uncompromising, at the same time as he follows the fates of individuals with great compassion and unbending commitment. 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. In Gurnah’s literary universe, everything is shifting – memories, names, identities. This is probably because his project cannot reach completion in any definitive sense. An unending exploration driven by intellectual passion is present in all his books, and equally prominent now, in 'Afterlives', as when he began writing as a 21-year-old refugee.


Learn more about the 2021 literature laureate: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2021/bio-bibliography/

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