Nobel Prize in Literature Awarded to Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah

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Books by novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, who won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature.


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Abdulrazak Gurnah won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday for what the judges described as his uncompromising and compassionate presentation of the effects of colonialism and the fate of refugees.

Mr. Gurnah was born in 1948 and grew up on the island of Zanzibar, arriving in England as a refugee at the end of the 1960s. Until his recent retirement, he was professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

Mr. Gurnah has published 10 novels and a number of short stories. “The theme of the refugee’s disruption runs throughout his work,” the Swedish Academy said. His “characters find themselves in a hiatus between cultures and continents, between a life that was and a life emerging,” the academy said.

The previous year’s winner was Louise Glück, the U.S. poet.

Write to Alistair MacDonald at

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