Most academics agree that the plagiarism charges against Yambo Ouologuem fall into a “gray area” as plenty of writers, including T.S. Eliot, have used the same method of intertextuality. But the damage to a brilliant young writer was done — until a French literary event in 2021 set the record straight.
In a contemporary world plagued by xenophobia and racism, Gurnah’s novels nudge us to get quiet and listen, to probe beyond the surfaces of our understanding. We might ask why and with what burdens people find themselves crossing the gulfs between continents and cultures, in what peculiarities of personal experience they might locate their senses of themselves, and in what unanticipated places they might find belonging.