this “Arab” author whom the Arabs do not know

He was born in Zanzibar to an Arab family from Yemen. After the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Arab media discovered an author with a singular background and identity.

“This is the family home of Nobel Prize for Literature Abdulrazak Gurnah”, title Aden Times. This house, according to the Yemeni site, is located in Al-Dis Al-Charqiya, a large town in the province of Hadramaut, Yemen.

“Gurnah grew up in Tanzania and was educated in Britain after having found refuge there in the late 1960s. But he is hadrami [originaire du Hadramaout] by both parents ”, remember Adem Times. The writer may have been born in Zanzibar in 1948, when the island belonged to the sultanate of the same name (then under a British protectorate, before being integrated in 1964 into the newly created Tanzania), the news site does not fear not to assure it: “It is not correct, nor fair, to say that Gurnah is a Tanzanian of hadrami origin. He is simply hadrami. ”

“Arab characters, with Arabic names”

In the aftermath of the Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah, many Yemeni media insist, this October 8, on the family origins of the novelist, like the websites Yemen Akhbar, The Yemen or Yemen American.

But beyond Yemen, it is all the Arab press that is interested in this former “Now nobelized refugee”, and invested with the mission of bridging the gap between cultures and continents ”, as the Egyptian newspaper writes Al-Shorouk, using the formula used by the Swedish Academy in its press release to present the laureate. The Cairo daily recalls that Gurnah is only the fifth African writer to win the Nobel for literature: only the South Africans Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee, the Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz and the Nigerian Wole Soyinka had been entitled to this honor before. him.

“Many of the heroes of his books are Arabs, have Arabic names”, note Maen Al-Bayari dans Al-Araby Al-Jadid. The Qatari site continues:

What is more, his areas of concern should concern us first and foremost. It is about multiple identities, oppression, servitude, exile and memory. ”

No Arabic translation

The Zanzibar Archipelago, where Abdulrazak Gurnah was born, off the coast of Tanzania, has a long history with another Arab country, namely the Sultanate of Oman. He ruled over a vast empire that stretched from Central Asia to the eastern coast of Africa. Zanzibar was part of it until 1856. It was around this time, around the middle of the 19th century, that Gurnah’s family emigrated there.

In his novel Paradis, translated into French (chez


Philippe Mischkowsky

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