Abdulrazak Gurnah is one of the world's most influential postcolonial writers. In 2021, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his writing, for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.
Gurnah grew up in Tanzania, but lives in England where he has produced all his adult work. He is a professor of literature and postcolonial studies.
Gurnah writes of the prevailing and common fate of refugees, the experience of exclusion and the need to understand their life stories in other cultures and continents. At the same time, he describes the attempts to create a new life in a strange place, and the longing, rootlessness, and grief over what has been.
His novels often have a first-person narrator and contain reflections on how history in general affects the psychological and social existence of individual destinies. It is part of Gurnah's narrative style that he constantly mixes in phrases and echoes from the rich East African coastal culture of which Zanzibar is a part - Kiswahili, Arabic, Hindi.
Gurnah has published ten novels, including Paradise, Admiring Silence, and By the Sea.
The author's latest novel, Afterlives, will be published in Norwegian in the spring of 2022, and Desertion is scheduled for publication in 2023.
Meet the Nobel Prize winner in conversation with Hans Olav Brenner.