The same work was also shortlisted for the 2007 MER Prize for Youth Literature, if memory serves. (Ah – yes it does.)
Several years ago, when Bristow-Bovey was embroiled in a plagiarism scandal (and publicly flayed by Robert Kirby), this might have been a controversial pick. But Bovey has “repositioned” himself, as the marketing folk say, with this book – and is persona grata in SA Lit circles once again.
Here’s what the judges said about SuperZero and its author:
The panel of adjudicators noted that SuperZero is a well-constructed, well-written and consistent novel, which is full of suspense and avoids clichés and stereotypical characters (J Inggs, K Mabin and ER Jenkins). The full citation is available on request.
Darrel Bristow-Bovey currently writes for television, having been head writer on two seasons of the popular drama series, Hard Copy, and on the third series of The Lab. He is part of the story and writing team for the popular e.tv daily soap Rhythm City and was Executive Producer for the SABC2 game show Where Were You?. He lives in Cape Town.
The prize will be awarded later in the year. It is a cash prize and a certificate.
And here’s the book blurb:
Durban schoolboy Zed (aka Zachary) was still small when his father died, and he doesn’t remember very much about him. Yet some things seem to run in the blood. For when Zed discovers an old wooden box half-filled with comics in the garage, he falls upon them with such abandon that his mother is filled with dismay and foreboding. “Don’t tell me you’re going the same way as your father!” she laments. “Don’t tell me I have to cope with another deluded male who thinks he’s a superhero!”
And indeed: Zed has become convinced that his destiny is to be a “superhero”, in the comic book tradition of Batman, Spiderman and all the others, and this is confirmed by his grandmother – who, ironically, has been commissioned by Zed’s mother to help him get rid of this delusion! He learns the burden of ethical responsibility that goes with this lonely role and finds himself thrust into battle against a “supervillain” in the form of another 12-year-old schoolboy.
SuperZero presents an extremely engaging and moving story of an unlikely blunderer’s modest belief in himself, and his idealism and courage in doing what he knows to be his duty to others.
Photo courtesy Cainprize.com