Abdulrazak Gurnah, Nobel Prize in Literature 2021

The Swedish Academy has once again surprised the whole world, by awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature to the Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, absent from all the forecasts, very numerous as the announcement of the award approaches.

The institution hailed the work of the author, and his ” a penetrating, uncompromising and compassionate look at the effects of colonialism and the future of refugees, confronted with the gap between cultures and continents “.

Born in Zanzibar (Tanzania) in 1948, Abdulrazak Gurnah left his native land in 1968, to flee the persecutions of citizens of Arab origin at the time of the birth of the Tanzanian state: he will retain a keen sense of exile. and uprooting, which he will stage in his novels. He continued his studies in the United Kingdom, before becoming a teacher, in Nigeria and then in Great Britain. He is a fine connoisseur of African literature, since he has signed Essays on African Writingin two volumes.

Noticed on the English literary scene with Heaven (1994, translated into French in 1999 by Éditions du Rocher by Anne-Cécile Padoux), selected for the Booker Prize, Abdulrazak Gurnah notably received the RFI Witness of the World Prize in 2007 for Near the sea (translated by Sylvette Gleize, Galaade Editions). Farewell Zanzibaranother of her books, has been translated into French, again by Sylvette Gleize, and also by Galaade Éditions.

Abdulrazak Gurnah is the first Tanzanian writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature: he also allows the African continent to count one more laureate, after Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) in 1986, Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt) in 1988, then Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee (South Africa), in 1991 and 2003.

Last year, due to the health crisis, nothing had taken place as planned for the scientific and literature prizes: they had been awarded in the country of residence of the winners. A first since the Second World War, which is repeated in 2021: Abdulrazak Gurnah will therefore receive his reward in England, since he resides in Brighton.

Prestigious award

The Nobel Prize for Literature has rewarded, during its history, a majority of English-speaking authors, 31 in total counting Gurnah. France is, however, at the top of the countries hosting the most winners, 15, in all, including the first in the history of the award, Sully Prudhomme, in 1901.

The Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to an author every year since 1901. As the chemist Alfred Nobel wrote in his will, if a laureate is chosen, it is because he ” demonstrated a powerful ideal », that is to say that his work has been able to render great services to humanity.

The prestigious award is part of the Nobel Prizes, which distinguish personalities in different categories (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine and peace). The Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded by the Swedish Academy, one of the royal academies of Sweden, which can be compared to the French Academy.

The gold medal and the Nobel diploma are accompanied by 9 million Swedish crowns (about 865,000 €).

Abdulrazak Gurnah succeeds Louise Glück, American poetess, 16th woman distinguished by the Nobel Prize for Literature and hailed by the Swedish Academy for ” his unmistakably poetic voice, which, with an austere beauty, makes individual existence universal “.

Among the most famous Nobel Prize winners for Literature, let us mention in particular Rudyard Kipling (1907), Selma Lagerlöf (1909), George Bernard Shaw (1925), Thomas Mann (1929), Hermann Hesse (1946), André Gide (1947), Albert Camus (1957), Gabriel García Márquez (1982), Wole Soyinka (1986), Toni Morrison (1993) or even JMG Le Clézio (2008).

File: The Nobel Prize for Literature, the ultimate reward for the world of letters

Photography: artwork, OZinOH, CC BY-NC 2.0

We would like to say thanks to the author of this write-up for this remarkable material

Abdulrazak Gurnah, Nobel Prize in Literature 2021