Winning the Nobel Prize in literature means his work could add essential nuance to the global conversation about identity and belonging
Until recently, Abdulrazak Gurnah, a professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent in Canterbury, had little media attention other than a brief mention in stories about refugees.
As a refugee who arrived in England from Zanzibar in 1968, and as a novelist who wrote about refugees and immigrants from east Africa, Gurnah would sometimes be mentioned in newspaper stories on asylum and migration. After the 2016 Brexit referendum and that notorious anti-immigrant UK Independence Party poster, his name was mentioned among other writers who championed a less insular worldview. And after the Windrush scandal, when the children of Caribbean migrants who had come to the UK decades ago were asked for paperwork to prove their right to live in Britain, Gurnah’s opinion was sought. He was, after all, a refugee himself. Continue reading