By Xuefei Chen Axelsson
Stockholm, Oct. 11(ChinaEuropeDialogue) — 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature is well done.
The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2021 is awarded to the novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.” announced Mats Malm, Secretary of Swedish Academy.
Swedish Academy has been criticised a lot in recent years. First criticism is from the awards itself. Many people complained that the awards are mostly given to those who are in Europe or American writers or poets, such as Bob Delan. Second is because of the Me Too scandal that took place on a relative related to Swedish Academy staff.
In fact, I think the awards to Bob Delan was also well done because Bob Delan really had a lot of good songs which are very philosophical and deep criticism to the wars, likely the Vietnam War. I think if he were not awarded for prize in literature, he could have been awarded for peace prize. He strongly condemned the warlords.
The same is with Abdulrazak Gurnah. Gurnah was born in 1948 and grew up on the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean but arrived in England as a refugee in the end of the 1960s. He has published ten novels and a number of short stories. The theme of the refugee’s disruption runs throughout his work.
With the identity of an African itself, the awards is issued from another angle. The same story if it is told from different perspective, it will have a different result.
For example, when Gurnah told the story, it will reflect his perspective in which represented his class who suffered a lot from colonialism and then escapted as a refuge to Britain.
And living in Britain as a refugee from Africa, he needed more than doubled efforts to climb up to the society and made a living for himself.
What he said was exactly true about refugees. I used to interview a Vietnamese Chinese refugee in Sweden. He recalled that in 1970s when he and his family wanted to go to Canada. A Canadian refugee official came over and told him that his children were too small and they had to wait for many years so that they grow up and can contribute to society. Thus he refused the family to go to Canada.
On the other hand, we can see Sweden is a country with a little bit long term view. The Swedish refugee official received the family and arranged them to live in Västerås and provided jobs for the couple and kindergartan and schools for the children. After some years, they all became very good labor in Sweden because the children all got good education.
When Gurnah said the refugees didn’t come for nothing. They came with something, referring to their working capability. In particular during the industrialization period, labor forces were needed.
In fact now there is a need of labor too. For example now in Sweden, all the taxi drivers, bus drivers and many service industries absorbed a lot of immigrants because the local inhabitants will have a higher level job.
In another words, refugee topic is always a heavy topic because it always meant someone to go from their hometown to an absolutely new area to work hard to get a living.
Some refugees were due to the war and some were just due to the admiration of the western countries. For example the refugees from Iran, Iraq and Syria, it was due to the war. From Turkey, it was due to the admiration of western countries.
Life is hard in many ways and discrimination can never be eradicated. It always shed a shadow in people’s heart.
When Gurnah said Paradise, I guess sometimes it is exactly like the hell. Sometimes you say life is beautiful, it tells a story exactly meaning death and in despair.
But this is exactly what a writer should write about. The pain in people’s heart should be expressed.
For example previous nobel winner Mo Yan, he also spoke for the farmers and the weaker in the society.
Many writers came from the cities and wrote about their miserable life in the countryside. But that misery in our real countryside people’s eyes are nothing but normal life. Thus when Mo Yan wrote it, he wrote it through the farmers perspective and that is great for the farmers to read and expressed a life with a new perspective.
Thus the Swedish Academy did a good job in this perspective and in that sense it should be respected and trusted.