Abdulrazak Gurnah


October 18, 2021

Abdulrazak Gurnah (born 20 December 1948 in Zanzibar, Sultanate of Zanzibar) is a Tanzanian-born British writer, literary critic and university professor (professor emeritus) who writes in English. Gurnah lives in Brighton. In 1964, a revolution took place in Zanzibar, which resulted in the persecution of citizens of Arab background. 18-year-old Gurnah had to flee his homeland; in September 1967 he moved to Britain. He studied for a bachelor’s degree (B.A.) at Christ Church College in Canterbury (awarded by the University of London) .Although Gurnah’s mother tongue is Swahili, as a 21-year-old refugee, he began writing in English. He continued his studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Postgraduate studies were followed by a long university career. In 1982, he graduated with a PhD from the University of Kent; the dissertation was titled Criteria in the Criticism of West African Fiction. He taught at the Bayero University of Nigeria in Kano (1980-82). Gurnah then worked as a teacher in the Department of English at the University of Kent. He was appointed Professor in 2004. He retired as Professor Emeritus of English and Postcolonial Literature. Gurnah is known for his works on refugees and immigration. The first novel in his author’s career, Memory of Departure, was published in 1987. Among English-speaking readers, the best known of Gurnah’s novels is Paradise (1994), which was nominated for a Booker Prize; his book By the Sea (2001) was also nominated for the Booker Prize. In Finland, Gurnah has been a fairly unknown author, as none of his works had been translated into Finnish before 2021. However, a Swedish version of Paradise exists and is described by Tua Forsström, a Finnish member of the Swedish Academy, as a "wonderful novel".


Memory of Departure (1987) Pilgrim’s Way (1988) Dottie (1990) Paradise (1994) Admiring Silence (1996) By the Sea (2001) Desertion (2005) My Mother Lived on a Farm in Africa, short story collection (2006) The Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie, editor (2007) The Last Gift (2011) The Urge to Nowhere, short story (2011) The Arriver’s Tale, short story (2016) Gravel Heart (2017) The Stateless Person’s Tale, short story (2019) Afterlives (2020) Sources

Elsewhere on the topic

Abdulrazak Gurnah. Biobibliographical notes. Nobel Foundation. (English, Swedish)

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