Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday. He is the first African writer to receive the prize in nearly two decades.
In its announcement, the Nobel committee praised “his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
Gurnah was born in Zanzibar and left for England at age 18, and both places figure greatly in his work. Many of his novels draw on the themes of exile, displacement and fractured identities.
The 2021 Nobel Prizes
- What to Know: Here’s a quick guide to this year’s prizes.
- Prize for Literature: Abdulrazak Gurnah was honored for “his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
- Read more about Gurnah’s books: Here are The Times’s reviews of his work.
- Prize for Chemistry: Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan were honored for their development of a new tool to build molecules, work that has spurred advances in pharmaceutical research and lessened the impact of chemistry on the environment.
- Prize for Physics: Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi were honored for their work, which “laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it.”
- Prize for Medicine: David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were honored for their discoveries about how heat, cold and touch can initiate signals in the nervous system.
- How Do the Nominations Work?: Thousands of people, including university professors, can submit nominations. Hundreds are submitted per year.
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