The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded on Thursday to Abdulrazak Gurnah for “his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
Gurnah was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania, in 1948, but now lives in Britain. He is the first African to win the award — considered the most prestigious in world literature — in almost two decades.
He is the fifth overall, after Wole Soyinka of Nigeria in 1986, Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt, who won in 1988; and the South African winners Nadine Gordimer in 1991 and John Maxwell Coetzee in 2003.
The 2021 Nobel Prizes
- Prize for Chemistry: Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan were honored for their development of a new tool to build molecules, work that has spurred advances in pharmaceutical research and lessened the impact of chemistry on the environment.
- Prize for Physics: Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi were honored for their work, which “laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it.”
- Prize for Medicine: David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were honored for their discoveries about how heat, cold and touch can initiate signals in the nervous system.
- What to Know: Here’s a quick guide to this year’s prizes.
- How Do the Nominations Work?: Thousands of people, including university professors, can submit nominations. Hundreds are submitted per year.
- A Nobel Prize That Might Have Been: A recent study of black holes has confirmed a fundamental prediction made by Stephen Hawking nearly five decades ago. But the ultimate award is out of his reach.
- A Life-Changing Call: Here’s how eight scientists learned about their Nobel Prizes.
- A Growing List of Questionable Choices: The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded at least six times in the past three decades to recipients whose recognition is being second-guessed.
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