‘Shimmering’ post-colonial literature
Nobel committee awarded its literature prize yesterday abdulrajak gurnahi, who left Zanzibar as a refugee in 1964 and settled in England. He is the first black writer to win since Toni Morrison won in 1993.
Many of Gurna’s books focus on the effects of colonialism in East Africa and on themes of deportation and displacement. In 1996, The Times called his novel “Paradise”—about a boy who travels across Africa as an indentured servant—”a shimmering, oblique coming-of-age story.”
Gurna’s first language is Swahili, but he adopted English as his literary language, his prose often bearing traces of Swahili, Arabic and German. He drew on imagery and stories from the Quran, as well as Arabic and Persian poetry, especially “The Arabian Nights”.
If you’re new to Gurnaah’s work, here’s what The Times Book Review put together Guide to his best novels.
Incoming: The Nobel Peace Prize, which attracts the most attention and is often considered the most prestigious of the awards, will be announced on Friday. Last year’s winner was the World Food Program, the United Nations agency that addresses hunger.