The Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 was awarded to the 73-year-old Zanzibar-born writer Abdulrazak Gurnah "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.


  1. Gurnah was born in 1948 and grew up on the island of Zanzibar, but arrived in England as a refugee at the end of the 1960s.
  2. Abdulrazak Gurnah has published ten novels and a number of short stories. The theme of the refugee’s disruption runs throughout his work.
  3. He began writing as a 21-year-old in English exile, and although Swahili was his first language, English became his literary tool.
  4. His most famous novel is Paradise, which was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1994.
  5. Gurnah consciously breaks with convention, upending the colonial perspective to highlight that of the indigenous populations. Thus, his novel Desertion (2005) about a love affair becomes a blunt contradiction to what he has called “the imperial romance, '' the Nobel Prize added.
  6. Gurnah becomes the first Tanzanian writer to win the Nobel Prize.
  7. One of his most recent works is Afterlives, a many layered story on Africa’s colonial history written in his trademark graceful prose that earned great plaudits.