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Nobel Literature Prize 2021: Abdulrazak Gurnah named winner: What you need to know


Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah won the 2021 Nobel Prize in literature for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugees in the gulf between cultures and continents.

The prize is awarded by the Swedish Academy and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.14m / £840,000).


Gurnah, 73, is the author of 10 novels, including Paradise and Desertion.

Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in 1948 and grew up on the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean but arrived in England as a refugee at the end of the 1960s. Until recently, he was Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at the University of Kent, Canterbury and has published ten novels and a number of short stories.


Paradise, published in 1994, told the story of a boy growing up in Tanzania in the early 20th Century and won the Booker Prize, marking his breakthrough as a novelist.

"Abdulrazak Gurnah's dedication to truth and his aversion to simplification is striking," the Nobel Committee for Literature said in a statement.

Literature was the fourth prize area Nobel mentioned in his will, it added. So far, 117 people have been recognised for their literary creations by the Academy, of which 16 are women.


The 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to American poet Louise Glück, professor of English at Yale University, "for her unmistakable poetic voice that, with austere beauty, makes individual existence universal."


The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Benjamin List and David MacMillan for their development of a precise new tool for molecular construction: organocatalysis, which has had a great impact on pharmaceutical research and has made chemistry greener.


Meanwhile, the Physics Nobel has been awarded one half jointly to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and the other half to Giorgio Parisi for laying the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humans influence it, as well as revolutionised the theory of disordered materials and random processes.


The Nobel announcements began on Monday with David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian being recognised for their contribution in the field of medicine for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.

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