Four Award Winner Books Nobel Prize in Literature from 2021, Abdulrazak Gurnah will be published exclusively by Company of Letters in 2022.
Born on the island of Zanzibar, now part of Tanzania, in 1948, Gurnah left the country at the age of eighteen as a refugee and settled in the United Kingdom. His literary debut took place in 1987, with the publication of Memory of Departure, and in 1994 released the acclaimed Paradise, finalista do Booker Prize.
For the first time in Brazil, the following titles will be published: Afterlives, Paradise, By the Sea e Desertion.
Afterlives, the author’s most recent book, will be released in the first half of 2022. Set in the beginning of the 20th century, the novel is set against the backdrop of the Maji Maji Rebellion, an armed revolt against German colonial rule in the East African region. Through Ilyas, who was stolen from his parents by German troops and after years returns to his homeland, and three other characters, we follow the individual and collective impacts of the war.
In novels and short stories that invert the colonial perspective and show the cultural plurality of Africa, Gurnah’s writing highlights the experience of refugees in the face of displacement and life in exile, through themes such as memory, belonging and trauma.
Paradise Its protagonist is a 12-year-old boy who was sold by his father to pay a debt to an Arab merchant. Desertion features two related forbidden love stories, one in 1899 and one in the 1950s. By the Sea portrays two African immigrants with a common past who live in the UK.
Gurnah has Swahili as her mother tongue and began dedicating herself to literature at the age of 21, adopting English as her writing language. Among his main references are Persian poetry, Arabic texts such as The one thousand and one nights and the Koran, Shakespeare and VS Naipaul.
He was also Professor of Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent at Canterbury and devoted himself to the study of authors such as Wole Soyinka, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Salman Rushdie.
In announcing the award, the jury elected the writer for his “uncompromising and compassionate perception of the effects of colonialism and the refugee’s fate in the abyss between cultures and continents.”
Companhia das Letras continues to publish Nobel Prize winners in the country. Until then unpublished in Brazil, last year the publisher bought the publishing rights of the American poet Louise Glück. In 2016, Voices of Chernobyl, by Belarusian Svetlana Aleksiévitch, also reached Brazilian bookstores.