Early this month, the Swedish Academy awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in literature to Abdulrazak Gurnah, for “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
Though Gurnah has published ten books and writes in English, his work has not reached a wide readership, especially in the US, and when the Nobel news was announced, many readers realized that his books were hard to get ahold of. Perhaps unsurprisingly, publishers immediately began to show interest. According to The New York Times, Gurnah’s agent Peter Straus has sold foreign rights in 30 territories, and received bids from six American publishers for the rights to Afterlives, Gurnah’s most recent novel.
The winner? Riverhead Books, who announced in a press release this morning that they would be publishing three of Gurnah’s books in the American market: Afterlives, which they describe as “a sweeping, multi-generational saga of displacement, loss, and love, as the fates of three people—a young man kidnapped into military service, another sold into it, and the sister he left behind—play out against the brutal colonization of East Africa,” as well as two older titles, By the Sea and Desertion.
Riverhead will publish Afterlives on August 23, 2022.