Abdulrazak Gurnah Popular Books

Abdulrazak Gurnah Biography & Facts

Abdulrazak Gurnah (born 20 December 1948) is a Tanzanian-born British novelist and academic. He was born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and moved to the United Kingdom in the 1960s as a refugee during the Zanzibar Revolution. His novels include Paradise (1994), which was shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prize; Desertion (2005); and By the Sea (2001), which was longlisted for the Booker and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Gurnah was awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fates of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents". He is Emeritus Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent. Early life and education Abdulrazak Gurnah was born on 20 December 1948 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar. He left the island, which later became part of Tanzania, at the age of 18 following the overthrow of the ruling Arab elite in the Zanzibar Revolution, arriving in England in 1968 as a refugee. He is of Arab heritage, and his father and uncle were businessmen who had immigrated from Yemen. Gurnah has been quoted saying, "I came to England when these words, such as asylum-seeker, were not quite the same – more people are struggling and running from terror states."He initially studied at Christ Church College, Canterbury, whose degrees were at the time awarded by the University of London. He then moved to the University of Kent, where he earned his PhD with a thesis titled Criteria in the Criticism of West African Fiction, in 1982. Career From 1980 to 1983, Gurnah lectured at Bayero University Kano in Nigeria. He then became a professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Kent, where he taught until his retirement in 2017; he is now professor emeritus of English and postcolonial literatures at the university.Although Gurnah's novels were received positively by critics, they were not commercially successful and, in some cases, were not published outside the United Kingdom. After he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021, publishers and booksellers struggled to keep up with the increase in demand for his work. It was not until after the Nobel announcement that Gurnah received bids from American publishers for his novel Afterlives; Riverhead Books plans to release it in August 2022. Riverhead also acquired rights to By the Sea and Desertion, two Gurnah works that had gone out of print. Writing Alongside his work in academia, Gurnah is a creative writer and novelist. He is the author of many short stories, essays and 10 novels.While his first language is Swahili, he has used English as his literary language. However, Gurnah integrates bits of Swahili, Arabic and German into most of his writings. He has said that he had to push back against publishers to continue this practice and they would have preferred to "italicize or Anglicize Swahili and Arabic references and phrases in his books". Gurnah has criticized the practices in both British and American publishing that want to "make the alien seem alien" by marking "foreign" terms and phrases with italics or by putting them in a glossary. As academic Hamid Dabashi notes, Gurnah "is integral to the manner in which Asian and African migratory and diasporic experiences have enriched and altered English language and literature. ... Calling authors like Gurnah diasporic, exilic, or any other such self-alienating term conceals the fact that English was native to him even before he set foot in England. English colonial officers had brought it home to him."Gurnah began writing out of homesickness during his 20s. He started with writing down thoughts in his diary, which turned into longer reflections about home, and eventually grew into writing fictional stories about other people. This created a habit of using writing as a tool to understand and record his experience of being a refugee, living in another land and the feeling of being displaced. These initial stories eventually became Gurnah's first novel, Memory of Departure (1987), which he wrote alongside his Ph.D. dissertation. This first book set the stage for his ongoing exploration of the themes of "the lingering trauma of colonialism, war and displacement" throughout his subsequent novels, short stories and critical essays.Consistent themes run through Gurnah's writing, including exile, displacement, belonging, colonialism and broken promises by the state. Most of his novels tell stories about people living in the developing world, affected by war or crisis, who may not be able to tell their own stories.Much of Gurnah's work is set on the coast of East Africa and many of his novels' protagonists were born in Zanzibar. Though Gurnah has not returned to live in Tanzania since he left at 18, he has said that his homeland "always asserts himself in his imagination, even when he deliberately tries to set his stories elsewhere."Literary critic Bruce King posits that Gurnah's novels place East African protagonists in their broader international context, observing that in Gurnah's fiction "Africans have always been part of the larger, changing world". According to King, Gurnah's characters are often uprooted, alienated, unwanted and therefore are, or feel, resentful victims". Felicity Hand suggests that Gurnah's novels Admiring Silence (1996), By the Sea (2001) and Desertion (2005) all concern "the alienation and loneliness that emigration can produce and the soul-searching questions it gives rise to about fragmented identities and the very meaning of 'home'." She observes that Gurnah's characters typically do not succeed abroad following their migration, using irony and humour to respond to their situation.Novelist Maaza Mengiste has described Gurnah's works by saying: "He has written work that is absolutely unflinching and yet at the same time completely compassionate and full of heart for people of East Africa. [...] He is writing stories that are often quiet stories of people who aren’t heard, but there’s an insistence there that we listen."Aiming to build the readership for Gurnah's writing in Tanzania, the first translator of his novels into Swahili, academic Dr Ida Hadjivayanis of the School of Oriental and African Studies, has said: "I think if his work could be read in East Africa it would have such an impact. ... We can't change our reading culture overnight, so for him to be read the first steps would be to include Paradise and After Lives in the school curriculum." Other work Gurnah edited two volumes of Essays on African Writing and has published articles on a number of contemporary postcolonial writers, including V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie and Zoë Wicomb. He is the editor of A Companion to Salman Rushdie (Cambridge University Press, 2007). Since 1987 he has been a contributing editor of Wasafiri and he is on the magazine's advisory board. He has been a judge for awards including.... Discover the Abdulrazak Gurnah popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Abdulrazak Gurnah books.

Best Seller Abdulrazak Gurnah Books of 2023

  • The Fortunate Ones synopsis, comments

    The Fortunate Ones

    Ellen Umansky

    A BOOKLIST BEST DEBUT NOVEL OF THE YEAROne very special work of arta Chaim Soutine paintingwill connect the lives and fates of two different women, generations apart, in this enthr...

  • The Lehman Trilogy synopsis, comments

    The Lehman Trilogy

    Stefano Massini & Richard Dixon

    Basis for the 2022 'Tony Award Best Play' winnerMagnificent in scope, internationally lauded, and transcendent, the novel in verse that inspired the sensational West End and B...

  • By the Sea synopsis, comments

    By the Sea

    Abdulrazak Gurnah

    A masterwork by the 2021 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, in which two immigrants’ conflicting stories about their common homeland reveal the buried truths that drove them from it...

  • Afterlives synopsis, comments


    Abdulrazak Gurnah


  • Abdulrazak Gurnah ebook Bundle synopsis, comments

    Abdulrazak Gurnah ebook Bundle

    Abdulrazak Gurnah

    From the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, six powerful novels for fans of Zadie Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Teju Cole. Included in this bundle...

  • Desertion synopsis, comments


    Abdulrazak Gurnah

    A masterwork by the 2021 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, in which the consequences of an illicit love affair reverberate from the heyday of the British empire to the aftermath of...