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Abdulrazak Gurnah

In conversation with Denis Scheck

Abdulrazak Gurnah, born in 1948 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021. He has published ten novels to date, including "Paradise", nominated for the Booker Prize, "By the Sea", nominated for the Booker Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and "Desertion", nominated for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. His most recent novel "Afterlives" was nominated for the Walter Scott Prize and the Orwell Prize for Fiction in 2020. Gurnah is Emeritus Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at the University of Kent.

His novel "Afterlives" is an extraordinary literary experience that painfully elucidates the legacies of German colonialism in East Africa and its devastating consequences for generations of local inhabitants. Last year, he gave his remarkable Schiller speech at the German Literature Archive in Marbach, in which he said: "Much has been said about the atrocities committed by the imperial German administration against the Herero and Nama in South West Africa, and much has also been shown recently, especially in Germany. The suffering inflicted on the people of East Africa by European rivalries must not be trivialized or forgotten. The historical responsibility for these acts must be recognized. Taking responsibility for injustice is the first step towards understanding and reconciliation: I firmly believe in this."

His 2017 novel "Gravel Heart", a moving coming-of-age story about betrayal, migration, the influence of global history on personal histories, and the search for one’s place in life, is being published in German for the first time this year. At this year’s Ruhrfestspiele, Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah will be the guest of literary critic Denis Scheck.

Language: Reading in German, discussion in English with German translation

Photo: Max Pringle

Duration: 1h 30m
no interval

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