Stockholm, Sweden | The Nobel Prize for Literature was on Thursday crowned in Tanzania-born United Kingdom-living novelist Abdul Razzaq Gurna, the first black author to receive the most prestigious literary awards since 1993.
According to the jury, the author is best known for his novel “Paradise” for “sympathetic and uncompromising account of the effects of colonialism and the fate of refugees trapped between cultures and continents”.
Born in Zanzibar in 1948, he fled during the persecution of the Muslim minority in 1968. Abdulrajak Gurna has published a dozen books since 1987.
His work “moves away from stereotypes and opens our eyes to a culturally diverse East Africa that is poorly known in many parts of the world,” the jury explained.
Last year, American poet Louis Glock won the most prestigious literary award for her work for “tough beauty”.
This year, a lot of speculation revolves around the promise that the academy will expand its geographical boundaries. Although Nobel Committee President Anders Olson was careful to reiterate earlier in the week that “literary merit” was “absolute and outstanding standard.”
This gift is historically very Western and has been crowned since 2012 and only by Chinese Mo Yan, Europeans or North Americans.
Of the 117 prize winners in literature since the prizes were created in 1901, 95, or more than 80% were Europeans or North Americans – with the 2021 prize, they were 102 men for 16 women.
Of the approximately 200 to 300 applications submitted to the academy year after year, five will be selected before the summer. Jurors are responsible for reading them carefully and discreetly shortly before the final selection before the announcement. Negotiations have been secret for 50 years.
After science at the beginning of the week, the Nobel season continues peacefully in Oslo on Friday, ending with the economy on Monday.