The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to novelist Abdulrajak Gurnah for his “compromising and passionate” portrayal of the effects of colonialism.
Gurna was born in Tanzania in 1948 but moved to England at a young age. He has written 10 novels, many of which focus on the refugee experience.
His 1994 novel “Paradise”, which told the story of growing up in Tanzania in the early 20th century, won the Booker Prize and marked his success as a novelist.
The Nobel Committee for Literature said in a statement, “The characters find themselves in the gap between cultures and continents, between a life that exists and an emerging life, an unsustainable state that can never be resolved.”
His 2001 novel “By the Sea” follows a refugee living in a British seaside town. And his most recent work, “Afterlives,” picks up the narrative of “heaven” and takes place during the German colonization of Africa.
Before his retirement, Gurna, 73, was also a professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Kent in England.
“Gurnah’s devotion to truth and his opposition to simplification is striking,” the committee said. “It can make him sad and adamant, at the same time he follows the fate of individuals with great compassion and unshakable commitment.”
Past winners of the Literary Prize have included French philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, British playwrights Harold Pinter and novelists including John Steinbeck, Toni Morrison and Kazuo Ishiguro.
It was more controversially won by singer Bob Dylan in 2016, while the committee has been criticized for awarding the 2019 title to Austrian writer Peter Handke, despite controversial previous comments about the 1990s Yugoslav wars.
The first Nobel Prize winner in literature was the French poet Sully Prudhomme, winner of the inaugural prize in 1901.
This is the fourth Nobel Prize to be awarded this week after three Science Prizes. The winner of the Peace Prize will be announced on Friday.
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