A Conversation with Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah

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Abdulrazak Gurnah Headshot
Photo Credit: Mark Pringle

September 14, 2022 at 6:00PM ET

Location: Gaston Hall

Join the Lannan Center on Wednesday, September 14th at 6:00-7:00PM, for a special evening featuring Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah. This conversation will be moderated by writer and Director of the Lannan Center, Aminatta Forna. Q&A to follow. Please note the following guidelines for entry:

  • Valid GU ID required for entry. Only open to current Georgetown University students, faculty, and staff. We invite members of the public to join us via livestream.
  • No bags larger than 9×12, backpacks, or totes are permitted in Gaston Hall.
  • Admission is free and on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Enter through the South Tower of Healy Hall (below Riggs Library).
  • Ticket distribution is on the Second Floor, Healy Hall (beginning at 5pm).
  • Due to public health restrictions, Gaston Hall will be capped below its full capacity.
  • Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made by September 7th to Patricia Guzman, 202-687-6294, pg654@georgetown.edu . A good faith effort will be made to fulfill requests made after September 7th.

From “Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah Urges Us Not to Forget the Past,” TIME Magazine

When Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature last October, becoming the first Black writer to win the award since Toni Morrison in 1993, his books shot to the top of must-read lists. But in the U.S., as well as other parts of the world, the now 73-year-old author’s backlist (10 books published from 1987 to 2020) was largely out of print. American publishers immediately began bidding for reprint rights of Gurnah’s work, with Riverhead securing the rights to three books, including his acclaimed novel Afterlives, released in 2020 in the U.K. and set to arrive in the U.S. this August.

In the citation for the Nobel, Gurnah’s body of work is praised for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.” Those topics are at the center of Afterlives, a heartbreaking and sweeping story centered on the devastation brought about by Germany’s colonial rule in early 20th-century East Africa. In Afterlives, Gurnah set out to write a novel about this period partly to bring greater awareness to the brutalities inflicted on those living in East Africa at the time. The story focuses on four characters who are all touched by the war in different ways and examines the impact of trauma. Gurnah is very familiar with the landscape of this narrative—he was born in Zanzibar, now Tanzania, and fled the country as a teenager, becoming a refugee at 18 and relocating to England.

Continue reading an interview with Abdulrazak Gurnah in TIME Magazine.

Read more about Abdulrazak Gurnah.

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