Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah wins the Nobel Prize in literature

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Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

a portrait of Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Tanzanian, writer, novelist and academic

Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

Zanzibar-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah won this year’s Nobel Prize in literature.

«For his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents,» announced the Swedish Academy this morning.

BREAKING NEWS:
The 2021 #NobelPrize in Literature is awarded to the novelist 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.” pic.twitter.com/zw2LBQSJ4j

— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 7, 2021

Gurnah was born in 1948. He’s was previously a professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England until his retirement.

The American poet Louise Glück won the 2020 Nobel Prize in literature.

The Swedish Academy often takes criticism for focusing too heavily on male, mainly Eurocentric writers. In its 120-year history, only 16 women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Until today, the last Black person awarded the prize was Toni Morrison in 1993.

The Swedish Academy does have plans to start increasingly diversifying laureate candidates next year, according to the Academy’s Nobel Committee chair Anders Olsson. In a recent interview with The New Republic, Olsson said they plan on having experts in language areas the committee doesn’t have a «deep competence» in (primarily, places in Africa and Asia), who will offer reports, presumably with a list of names worth considering.

In 2018, the prizes were postponed after Jean-Claude Arnault, a Swedish Academy member’s husband, was accused of sexual misconduct and leaking Academy information. Arnault was later sentenced to two years in prison for rape.

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