On Thursday, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah (a novelist who was born in Tanzania, but has been exiled in the United Kingdom for over 50 years) for his accounts about postcolonialism in East Africa, and the tragic fate of refugees.
According to the Swedish Academy, the award was given for the writer's empathetic and uncompromising account on colonialism and the fates of refugees trapped between cultures and continents.
His family has Arabian Peninsula roots and he fled to England in 1960, five years after the country gained independence. This was at a time that the Muslim minority was being persecuted. He never returned to Zanzibar, and he died in 1984.
Abdulrazak Gurnah published ten novels and short stories since 1987. He can write in English, even though Swahili is his first language.
The Nobel Prize jury explained that his work goes beyond stereotypical descriptions to show us a culturally rich East Africa that is often overlooked.
He was Professor of English, Post-Colonial Literature, University of Kent, Canterbury, until his retirement. There he was an avid connoisseur of the works of Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong (o), which was one of the favourites for the Nobel this Year.
The most prestigious literary award was presented to Louise Gluck, an American poet, last year for her extraordinary beauty.
Much speculation this year has focused on the Academy's promise of expanding its geographical horizons. Even though Anders Olsson, president of Nobel committee, had made sure to reiterate at the start of the week that literary merit was the only criterion.
Historisch speaking, the prize is very Western. Since 2012 and the Chinese Mo Yan in China, only Europeans and North Americans have been crowned.
95 of the 117 literature laureates who have been awarded the prizes since 1901 are either North Americans or Europeans.
The 2021 prize will have 102 men and 16 women on it.
Five of the 200-300 applications that are submitted each year to the Academy are chosen before the summer. They are responsible for carefully reading the applications and making a decision on the final selection shortly before the announcement. Secret deliberations are kept secret for fifty years.
The Nobel season begins Friday in Oslo with science, and ends Monday with economy.