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Tanzanian Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah Becomes 5th African To Win Nobel Prize In Literature

Abdulrazak Gurnah, a novelist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday. Gurnah was born on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar in the 1960s and now lives in the United Kingdom as a refugee. His work focuses on the refugee experience and identity.

Gurnah was picked by the Swedish Academy “for his uncompromising and empathetic penetration of the impacts of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents,” according to the Swedish Academy, which selects the winners.


It follows a tumultuous few years for the coveted award, which last year awarded to American poet Louise Gluck, a more popular choice after a period of debate.



After sex abuse allegations shook the Swedish Academy, the prize was postponed in 2018.

In 2019, protests erupted after it was awarded to Austrian writer Pete Handke for his strong support for Serbs during the 1990s wars.


The academy defied convention in 2016 by awarding the honor to Bob Dylan, the first musician to do so.

Gurnah will win a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.14 million) in addition to the international recognition. The funds originate from the estate of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor who died in 1895 and founded the Nobel Prize.


Gurnah was Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom until his recent retirement. His novel “Paradise” was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1994.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Wednesday to German Benjamin List and Scottish-born David W.C. MacMillan.


The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded on Tuesday to Japanese-born American Syukuro Manabe, German Klaus Hasselmann, and Italian Giorgio Parisi.

David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, both from the United States, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday.



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