Nobel Literature just wonderful: Gurnah

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Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, who won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, says it is just wonderful to win the prize and that he is honoured to be recognised with an award that has been given to such a huge list of accomplished writers.

"I think it's just brilliant and wonderful," Gurnah told Reuters when asked how he felt to win the prize.

"I am very grateful to the Swedish Academy for nominating me and my work."

Gurnah, 72, won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee," the award-giving body said.

Based in the United Kingdom, Gurnah is the first African writer to win the award since the Zimbabwean Doris Lessing in 2007.

His novels include Paradise, which is set in colonial east Africa during World War I and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and Desertion.

Gurnah left Africa as a refugee in the 1960s amid the persecution of citizens of Arab origin in Zanzibar where he grew up when the peaceful liberation from British colonial rule led to a revolution.

He was only able to return to Zanzibar in 1984, allowing him to see his father shortly before his death.

The prize is awarded by the Swedish Academy and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($A1.57 million).

"It's just great - it's just a big prize, and such a huge list of wonderful writers - I am still taking it in," Gurnah said on Thursday.

"It was such a complete surprise that I really had to wait until I heard it announced before I could believe it."

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