October 19, 2021

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Abdulrazak Gurnah

Abdel Razzaq Qurna receives the Nobel Prize in Literature – NRK Culture and Entertainment

In the Swedish Academy’s founding paper, they wrote that Tanzanian Abdul Razak Qurna was awarded the Nobel Prize for the way he portrayed colonialism.

He received the award because without compromise and with great sympathy he saw the spotlight on the consequences of colonialism and the plight of refugees in the divide between cultures and the continent, Mats Malm said when he announced the winner.

Abdul Razzaq Jarna was born on the island of Zanzibar in 1948, but moved to England when he was twenty, and lived there. He first appeared in the novel “The Anniversary of Departure” in 1987.

The Swedish Academy Mats Malm has announced this year’s winner in Stockholm.

Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/AP

– A pleasant surprise

The breakthrough came with the 1994 novel Paradise, which was published in Norwegian in 1996. This book led to him being nominated for a Booker Prize, among other things.

This is a historical childhood novel that takes its activism from the beginning of the twentieth century and deals with, among other things, ancient Swahili culture. The book is about a poor twelve-year-old boy who is sold as a slave to his uncle. Together, they embark on a long and dangerous journey. A quarter of an hour later, the boy ended up as a German soldier during World War I.

Abdul Razzaq Jarna, Nobel Prize Winner

A selection of books written by Nobel Laureate Abdul Razzaq Gherna.

Photo: Jonathan Nakstrand/AFP

In addition to being a writer, he is also a literary critic and teaches English and Literary Studies at the University of Kent. He has also edited several anthologies on African literature.

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Aschehoug published three of his ten books. Publishing director Nora Campbell says the award was a pleasant surprise.

– Now there are a lot of calls to communicate the Nobel Prize winner to Norwegian readers. She told NRK that it is a good thing that the Academy is showing that good literature is not only written in Europe.

Juventus wins

Abdul Razzaq Qurna was not on the lists of candidates, and it came as a surprise to many. NRK literary critic Martha Norheim said it is gratifying that the African continent has now received its fifth prize for literature.

– I think it is good that the award goes to an African writer. It is also a good sign for the future. There was a wonderful alternate in the academy, who probably had a different orientation in the world. She says the world may have been given a more generous place.

Marius Wolfsberg, Dagbladet’s literary correspondent, happened to be in Zanzibar when the award was announced on Thursday.

– I live in a hotel and at the reception everyone is happy and proud. The people of the neighborhood here are very proud that he was born in Zanzibar. That’s a saying of cultural life here, he says.

Read also:

Seven controversies of the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Morgenbladet literary critic Frode Helmich Pedersen believes the committee has done well with this year’s award.

The subject of colonialism is very contemporary. This is something people are preoccupied with, and the issue of racism is the issue of the hour. It is always my pleasure that they give the award to authors who have not read, I look forward to reading.

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There is no distribution in Sweden

As a Nobel laureate in literature, Gourna receives a diploma, a coin, and 10 million Swedish kronor.

The award has been presented by the Swedish Academy a quarter of a year since 1901, with few exceptions. Since 1944, only in 2018 no prize has been awarded. Then riots and scandals within the Swedish Academy resulted in no award being given. Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk was awarded the 2018 prize the following year.

The Grand Noble Dinner, which is traditionally held in Stockholm before Christmas, was canceled last year. It will be the same this year. The cause is coronary artery disease. Instead, the winner will receive the prize in their home country.