Calamitous Impacts of Colonialism in Abdul Razak Gurnah’s After Lives


P. Monisha, Ph.D Research Scholar, Dr. C.S. Robinson, Professor
Department of English, St. Peters Institute of Higher Education and Research, Avadi, Chennai, India.


Abdul Razak Gurnah, a novelist from Zanzibar, recently received the prestigious "Noble Prize in Literature" for his "unwavering and sympathetic comprehension of the impacts of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the abyss between cultures and continents." He is the first black African author to win this esteemed award in 35 years since Wole Soyinka. The disastrous impacts of colonialism in East Africa have been repeatedly examined by Gurnah, and the theme of "refugee's disruption" permeates all of his writing. Gurnah's Afterlives is an intriguing book that primarily takes place during the first part of the 20th century. It skillfully addresses the issues of oppression, genocidal acts, resistance, and retaliation brought about by German colonial control in Africa. It concentrates on the ruthless, oppressive, and violent German colonial authority in East Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. The first chapter of Afterlives begins immediately before World War One. The action of the narrative takes place in East Africa, today known as Tanzania, when Germany was still a colonial power. It navigates through both World Wars, the downfall of German Imperialism, British colonisation, and ultimately Independence. The focus of the book is on the effects of colonialism on people as it follows the characters cautiously through times of instability and warfare. The novel's central theme deals with the trauma and its psychological effects on characters in the years that follow.