Abdulrazak Gurnah – How to write like a Nobel Prize winner

Abdulrazak Gurnah was forced to flee Zanzibar when he was 18. He draws on that experience to write stories that address colonialism from different angles. His book ‘Paradise’ was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His book ‘By The Sea’ was longlisted for the Booker Prize. He’s Professor Emeritus of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, and was awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature. He only had 9 minutes warning about that, by the way!

The new book tells the story of Ilyas, stolen from his parents by German colonial soldiers, who must now find his way home.

We talk about why he needs a blank wall to write, why he’s never bothered with a word count, and how teaching full-time affected his ability to write stories.

You can hear how much he thinks about plot points, how he gets to know his characters, and all about the Nobel Prize.

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