Tanzanian-born novelist Abdul Razzaq Kourna wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Stockholm, Sweden | Nobel laureate Abdul Razzaq Kourna, born in Zanzibar on Thursday, was deported to the United Kingdom for half a century for the suffering of refugees stranded in East Africa during the colonial and post-colonial era and between the two worlds. .

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He is best known for his novels “Paradise” (“Paradise”, 1994) and “By the Sea” (“Near the Sea”, 2001). Says the Swedish Academy.

The 72-year-old is the first African writer to receive the most prestigious literary awards since 2003.

Originating with his family on the Arabian Peninsula, he fled to England from Zanzibar, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean in the late 1960s. The Arab minority was suppressed a few years after independence and the formation of Tanzania. Abdul Razzaq Qurna did not set foot in Zanzibar until 1984, in his dying father’s bed.

If he has been writing since he was 21, it was not until 1987 that he published ten novels and some short stories. His latest work, a series of “afterlife” “afterlife”, takes place in Tanzania in the early 20th century at the end of the German colonial era.

Although his original language is Swahili he writes in English.

“Not empty”

In his first interview with the Nobel Foundation, the recipient called on Europe to change its view of the refugee and migration crisis from Africa.

“They don’t come empty-handed,” the author said, noting that they are “talented and energetic”.

The Tanzanian government praised the dedication of Abdul Razak Kurna, saying it was a “victory” for Tanzania and the African continent.

“You have undoubtedly done justice to your business. Your victory is the victory of Tanzania and Africa,” a government spokesman said on Twitter.

If the Academy puts Abdul Razzaq Kurna in the literary tradition of the English language under the auspices of Shakespeare and VS Naipaul, “it should be emphasized that he emotionally breaks traditions.

His work “moves away from stereotypical interpretations and opens our eyes to culturally diverse East Africa, which is poorly known in many parts of the world,” he explained.

Until his recent retirement, he was Professor of English and Post-Colonialism at the University of Kent in Canterbury, where he was interested in the works of Nigerian Nobel Literature Wol Soyinka and Kenyan Nuki Wa Thiongo. This year’s Nobel favorites.

“No writer today expresses well the punishments for deportation and their rewards. Both Canterbury and Kent are his deportation and his home,” said Bashir Abu-Manne, head of his former university department.

Kurna was the first black African writer to receive the most prestigious literary awards since the same Choinka in 1986.


This price broke all forecasts. Henrik Celander, his own publisher in Sweden, explained that he never imagined he would come to Literary Grail.

When the academy called, “I thought it was a joke,” the winner said.

“His writing is sometimes cynical, to wake us up, tell us before we talk too much in the news about memory, loss and immigration,” Emmanuel Coles told the late AFP in France.

By concluding a work centering on colonialism and immigration, Nobel Dedication dedicates current questions between apology and identity pressures.

The academy has been frequently criticized for its Eurocentricity, which has been seeking since 2019 to expand its horizons. Although the chairman of the Nobel Committee reaffirmed at the beginning of the week that “literary merit” is the “absolute and unique criterion”.

Of the 118 prize winners in the literature since the creation of the prize in 1901, 95, or nearly 80%, are Europeans or North Americans.

But the academy wants to entertain writers in a shade worthy of its light, the millions of euros that go with it.

Last year, the lesser-known American poet Louis Glக்ck received the Nobel Prize for Literature for his “extreme beauty.”

The Nobel season continues on Friday in Oslo, with the long-awaited Peace Prize ending with the economy on Monday.

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