“Arriving at writing”: A Conversation with Abdulrazak Gurnah

Anupama Mohan, Sreya M Datta


The following is a two-part interview conducted by Anupama
Mohan and Sreya M. Datta with Abdulrazak Gurnah, wellknown
novelist from Zanzibar, Tanzania, now living in UK.
Gurnah is also Emeritus Professor of English and
Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent. He has
edited two volumes of Essays on African Writing, and has
published articles on a number of contemporary postcolonial
writers, including Naipaul, Rushdie, and Wicomb. He is the
editor of A Companion to Salman Rushdie (Cambridge UP,
2007). He is a prolific novelist and his first book, Memory of
Departure, was published in 1987. His fourth novel, Paradise
(1994), was shortlisted for the Booker and Whitbread Prizes.
His 2001 book By the Sea was longlisted for the Booker and
shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. His most
recent work is Gravel Heart, which was published in 2017.
In this interview, we wanted to explore Gurnah’s work in light
of this Special Issue’s general thrust on the Indian Ocean as
providing important insights into the limitations and
possibilities of postcolonial studies and perspectives upon the
world in the twenty-first century. At the same time, we wanted
to understand how Gurnah’s novels probe the figures of
asylum-seekers, migrants, vagrants, and nomads in a time of
great political upheaval in Europe with its repercussions also
marking out spaces and cultures that seem to be at a great
remove from Europe but that are integrally tied to European
developments through time, history, trade, and cultural


postcolonial; transmodern; indian ocean; africa; empire

Full Text: