Sayari Debnath in Scroll.in:
Many readers around the world are still just discovering Abdulrazak Gurnah. After his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021 – which almost no one saw coming – the 72-year-old Zanzibar-born author is finally in the limelight that was perhaps due to him for a few decades now.
Born in 1948, Gurnah spent his childhood in the islands of Zanzibar before escaping to England in the 1960s. This was shortly after the island gained independence from British colonial rule in December 1963 and went through a revolution. However, the post-revolution regime ushered in the oppression and persecution of citizens of Arab origin.
At the height of the civil unrest, massacres became a common occurrence on the island. Gurnah belonged to a persecuted minority ethnic group and, after finishing school, was forced to leave his family and flee the country.