Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, 72, has been awarded Thursday the Nobel Prize for Literature as appreciation for his novels which subjects are about the impact of migration on individuals and societies. Gurnah is the author of 10 novels, including “Memory of Departure,” “Pilgrims Way,” “Paradise”, “By the Sea,” “Desertion” and “Afterlives.” His native language is Swahili but he writes in English. The Swedish Academy said the award was in recognition of Gurnah’s “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee.” Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel Committee for literature, called Gurnah “one of the world’s most prominent post-colonial writers.”
Gurnah said he hoped fiction could help people in wealthy nations understand the humanity of the migrants they see on their screens. The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.14 million). Born in 1948 on the island of Zanzibar, now part of Tanzania, Gurnah moved to Britain in the late 1960s, fleeing a repressive regime that persecuted the Arab Muslim community. Previously, Gurnah was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006 and in 2007 he won the RFI Witness of the world award in France for his novel By the Sea. “I dedicate this Nobel Prize to Africa and Africans and to all my readers. Thanks!” Gurnah tweeted after the announcement of the Nobel prize. He is the first African to win the award in more than a decade.