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2008 Sunday Times Literary Awards Shortlists

Odyssey to FreedomThabo MbekiThe Fox and the Flies

The Song Before it is SungDiary of a Bad YearBlood KinThe FenceAfter Tears

Alert! Only eight books – out of a total of seventy-two longlisted titles – made the 2008 Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists. Here they are, in alphabetical order by the author’s surname:

R75 000 Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction Shortlist

R75 000 Sunday Times Fiction Prize Shortlist

2007 was such a terrific year for non-fiction (just look at the longlist!), it’s hard to see how the judging panel could find merit in only three books. Among those in the running, only Van Onselen has won the prize before, for The Seed is Mine. In the publishers’ stakes, Random House-Umuzi is clearly the winner, having published both The Fox and the Flies and Odyssey to Freedom.

On the fiction side, three expats – Coetzee, Cartwright and Dovey – compete with two who remain in SA, Gray and Mhlongo. Dovey and Gray, meanwhile, are debut novelists, while After Tears is Mhlongo’s second work of fiction. I take it as read that Cartwright and Coetzee require no introduction. Cartwright is the most recent winner of the award in this group: his The Promise of Happiness won in 2005. The NB group wins the publisher’s stakes, with both the Gray and the Mhlongo to its credit.

No BOOK SA bloggers made the cut – alas! And only one black and one woman writer among the eight – something that will no doubt occasion much discussion in the months to come.

Book Details – 2008 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction shortlist

Book Details – 2008 Sunday Times Fiction Prize shortlist

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://www.ronirwin.com" rel="nofollow">Ron</a>
    Ron
    June 5th, 2008 @10:47 #
     
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    UCT Creative Writing MA alumna Ceridwen Dovey will win the fiction award. Count on it. Coetzee's "Diary" is a little too obscure for the Sunday Times (most of their readers will not get it), and Cartwright just got his award. I don't think it will go to a crime novel like The Fence and Blood Kin is a simply a bigger, stronger novel than After Tears. Plus, Kin is being sold in the USA and Europe already, giving the prize itself an immediate and large reach. On top of all that, the book is very timely given Mugabe's recent antics and makes a pretty grim statement about tyrannical rulers everywhere. I give her a 1/2 chance, and After Tears a 1/3. The Fence gets a 1/3, and Coetzee gets 1/4, Cartwright brings up the rear at 1/5.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 5th, 2008 @11:54 #
     
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    You may have jinxed it, Ron. Pity none of the Book SA bloggers made the shortlist. But looking at the longlist, I'm extra chuffed with my honourable mention for the M-Net Award. Congratulations to the shortlistees!

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    June 5th, 2008 @11:55 #
     
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    My vote would be on Blood Kin. It's a bold and deft and stunning work.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    June 5th, 2008 @12:04 #
     
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    A bit lop-sided, the short list. Where's Sven? I'm looking forward to his fearless appraisal of it.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    June 5th, 2008 @12:12 #
     
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    So, Ron, are we starting a betting pool or what?

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    June 5th, 2008 @12:15 #
     
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    Ron's reasoning seems sound. But I'm thoroughly jealous of Ceridwen, so I shan't support her.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    June 5th, 2008 @12:25 #
     
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    I don't think you can be jealous of genius. It's so far beyond the reach of mere mortals.

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    June 5th, 2008 @12:38 #
     
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    Ron, Lauren, Rustum, Richard, Louis - please place your bets on the books here:

    http://news.book.co.za/blog/2008/06/05/place-your-bets-on-the-2008-sunday-times-literary-awards/

    You'll see I've already set the odds, favouring Coetzee, then Dovey, with Mhlongo, Cartwright and Gray tied third.

    You can also bet on the Alan Paton Award.

    Have fun!

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    June 5th, 2008 @12:39 #
     
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    Of course you can, Lauren, don't be ridiculous. Especially when it's 'promotable' and youthful.

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  • <a href="http://kathrynwhite.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Kathryn</a>
    Kathryn
    June 5th, 2008 @12:54 #
     
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    we had the same english teacher, went to the same school. imagine how i feel.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 5th, 2008 @13:07 #
     
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    Seems a bit odd, the Sunday Times giving out an award for literature, sort of like Saudi Arabia giving out an award for democracy.

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    June 5th, 2008 @13:10 #
     
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    Well, Kathryn, your English teacher must be taking unwarranted credit for your success.

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  • <a href="http://kathrynwhite.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Kathryn</a>
    Kathryn
    June 5th, 2008 @13:27 #
     
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    hahahha. Sven, when u r in the running one year, someone will unearth this comment from the digital archives and use it against you and that R75 000 will go to someone who appreciates from whence it come.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 5th, 2008 @13:58 #
     
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    R75,000? Why didn't you say? I'd be privileged to receive a generous reward for my humble talents from such an esteemed journalistic institution. Viva 2nd page celebrity gossip, viva 50 page sports sections and viva syndicated news!

    Then again, I don't expect to ever be in the running, I've got this thing where I see establishment endorsement as a special kind of failure. I'm a sucker for people not of the self-appointed-expert variety simply telling me they enjoyed my book and that it made them laugh.

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  • <a href="http://kathrynwhite.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Kathryn</a>
    Kathryn
    June 5th, 2008 @14:39 #
     
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    u should be try advertising then. when people like your ad - as a topic at a braai for instance - they luuuuvvvv it. even if u think it's shite and your CD has threatened to fire u if you don't make something that wins awards.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    June 5th, 2008 @14:44 #
     
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    Sven, I hear you, but f--k it, I can do with R75 000. That's two years' rent man.

    As for establishment endorsement, I can accept it as long as it's from the established.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 5th, 2008 @15:32 #
     
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    Yes, when you put it that way, I could see my way round to scamming my way into the Sunday Times awards, and subverting the whole process by having the establishment pay two years worth of my rent while I sit at home and pen anti-establishment vitriol. The danger is, of course, that I might inadvertantly end up as part of the establishment as so often happens to us anti-establishment types (see Noam Chomsky).

    I'm thinking of a title already...
    "Angst laden apartheid memoir of a UCT creative writing MA graduate."

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    June 5th, 2008 @15:50 #
     
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    Cooptation. Ah, it takes me back to the years of reading the Birmingham School stuff on popular culture and mass culture. (I still believe in that distinction).

    I'd just take the money and run, buy some whisky, some cat-food, 5kilos basmati, half a lamb, maybe a pair of jeans at Mr Price, get a haircut... then drink to soothe my conscience and stick to poetry, the true art, more fame than fortune.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 5th, 2008 @16:03 #
     
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    I think the cat food is unnecessarily frugal, particularly when it forces you to buy whisky to wash away the taste..

    I'm not sure if you've ever read anything by the Zen poet Ryokan, but I can just imagine a nice little Ryokanesque Zen tableau:

    Writing by the light of a candle,
    I feed whisky to the fish in my gut,
    outside a Cape winter's night,
    on my page,
    the hairdresser's hangover,
    tiny stalks of hair.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    June 5th, 2008 @16:10 #
     
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    Nope, have not come across Ryokan; am also not quite Zennish. I like the pentameter of the second line, but I guess liking pentameters isn't anti-establishment. Actually, I guess now it's luddite, what with spoken-word on the rise.

    The cat-food would be for my cat; I'm having the lamb.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 5th, 2008 @16:25 #
     
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    Does the establishment have an official prescription for the use of pentameter? Insidious bunch, the establishment.

    The following is haiku by Ryokan, written after his hut in the mountains had been burgled and ransacked.
    The thief left it behind:
    the moon
    at my window.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    June 5th, 2008 @17:36 #
     
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    When I was doing my teacher's diploma, my English method lecturer said that the way to respond to a haiku is to sigh and say: How true. If it was a very good haiku, you sigh and say: How very true.

    I understand haiku is a very complex system in Japanese. In English, I don't trust any post-Poundian haiku.

    The thing about the pentameter is that it signals the writer's desire to be part of the establishment, as the pentameter was (is) the dominant meter (shit, should that be metre?) in English poetry since Shakespeare.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 5th, 2008 @18:13 #
     
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    Ah, I never actually knew what pentameter was, it just sounded very rhythmic. I find I enjoy some haiku translations whilst others don't sound quite so good, though I am not familiar with individual translators.

    I know Mr Pound was an authority on Japanese poetry, but his thoughts on the Federal Reserve banking system (and the work of his protégé Eustace Mullins) have tended to distract me from his work as poet. I imagine that translating a haiku is as much of an art as writing one.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 5th, 2008 @18:23 #
     
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    I like poems, but I don't know how they work. Like breathing. And love. Sometimes I count the syllables. Usually there are enough.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    June 5th, 2008 @19:15 #
     
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    It is/was believed that the pentameter is the closest to the rhythm of spoken English, but that was before Derek Walcott. OK, no, but it was thought so, obviously for Standard English. So it became naturalised as the, err, natural rhythm for poetry in English, especially if you wanted your poetry to sound, double err, natural. Rise of the pentameter:

    /I feed/ whisky/ to the/ fish in/ my gut/

    Although it is not quite imabic, so I think Eliot might have a problem with your verse, Sven. Or maybe my intonation is off and I can't hear the iambs. I'll call it a shadowy pentameter.

    I threw in Walcott as a joke, but he is an example of how the pentameter can be married to other (e.g. Caribbean) English speech rhythms. Which of course means that there are other English speech patterns, and the pentameter therefore not the only 'natural' rhythm, and there then must be a policing going on in constructing the canon, etc. back to Sven's establishment.

    Pound was another chopstick of noodles. But I was thinking of his "In a station of the metro":

    The apparition of these faces in a crowd;
    petals on a wet black bough.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    June 5th, 2008 @19:26 #
     
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    Yeah, I'm pretty much stumped on love too, but breathing? You inhale, then you exhale, Richard.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 6th, 2008 @00:13 #
     
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    A friend reminded me that, in addition to breathing, I have grasped pentameter to certain extent, although not consciously.

    http://richarddenooy.book.co.za/blog/2008/03/21/gurney-ho/

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