Abdulrazak Gurnah

Literary Birthday – 20 December – Abdulrazak Gurnah

Happy Birthday, Abdulrazak Gurnah, born 20 December 1948.


  1. I speak to maps. And sometimes they something back to me. This is not as strange as it sounds, nor is it an unheard of thing. Before maps, the world was limitless. It was maps that gave it shape and made it seem like territory, like something that could be possessed, not just laid waste and plundered. Maps made places on the edges of the imagination seem graspable and placable.
  2. Respect yourself and others will come to respect you. That is true about all of us, but especially true about women. That is the meaning of honour.
  3. There are different ways of experiencing belonging and unbelonging. How do people perceive themselves as part of a community? How are some included and some excluded? Who does the community belong to?
  4. I don’t think that the period in which a story is set really matters in the end, whether writing about the past or the present, it is the subject and its treatment that is important. (via)
  5. A fragment of a person is added to a fragment of another or an imagined person to create the figure I have in mind. Because I live with these figures for so many months or years in the process of writing, they acquire a solidity or reality which is self-sustaining. Once under way they construct themselves, in a manner of speaking. (via)
  6. There is no advice I know of other than keep writing. (via)

Abdulrazak Gurnah is a Tanzanian novelist who lives in the United Kingdom. He was Professor of English at the University of Kent, and was a Man Booker Prize judge in 2016. His novels include Paradise (1994), which was shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prize. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2021 ‘for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fates of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents’. His latest book is Afterlives.

Source for image

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 19th December 2021