Alert! Peter Harris’ In a Different Time, a true-life legal drama about the defense of the Delmas Four group of umKhonto we Sizwe soldiers, was named as the winner of the R10 000 Booksellers’ Choice Award in Durban last night.
The announcement was made at the annual PASA/SABA dinner, which also incorporates the Sefika awards for publishers and booksellers. Jonathan Ball was announced as Publisher of the Year for 2008, while Cape Town’s The Book Lounge collected the Independent Bookseller of the Year award – for the second year running – and Berlut Books the Independent Publisher of the Year award. The last two pick up cheques for R5 000 each.
Harris, who hails from Durban, was present to collect his award, presented by Simon Skinner of Nielsen Book, which sponsors the award. His book has been on a roll: it also won the 2009 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award.
In a Different Time was up against five other books for this award; click here to view the shortlist. Here’s the official press release from Nielsen, which includes judges’ comments; thanks to their representative in South Africa, BookData/SAPnet/Booknews, for sending it through:
Peter Harris wins BOOKSELLERS’ CHOICE AWARD 2009 with In a Different Time
18 August 2009, Woking
Durban author Peter Harris has won the coveted Booksellers’ Choice Award 2009 with his acclaimed book In A Different Time. Simon Skinner, Sales Director of award sponsors’ Nielsen Book, announced the winner of this year’s prize at the prestigious PASA and SABA Conference dinner held at the Sibaya Conference Centre in Durban. He presented Harris with a cheque for Rand 10,000.
The award is judged by South African booksellers, who are given the opportunity to vote for the books that they most enjoyed reading, selling or promoting during the previous year.
Harris fought off stiff competition from fellow shortlisted authors: Dana Snyman for On the Back Roads (Tafelberg Publishers); Jeremy Gordin for Zuma: a Biography (Jonathan Ball Publishers); Zapiro’s Pirates of Polokwane (Jacana Media); Max du Preez for Of Tricksters, Tyrants and Turncoats (Zebra Press); and Steve Hofmeyr’s Mense Van My Asem (Zebra Press).
In A Different Time tells the story of four young South Africans who embark on a mission that will ultimately take them to Death Row. They are highly trained and experienced assassins and the narrative details their infiltration into the country, their operations, arrest and subsequent trial. The story is set in a South Africa gripped by unrest and political tension, when the ANC was in exile and repression at its height. The characters are linked by bizarre coincidence and tragedy in a true account narrated by their attorney.
Comments on the book from some of the judging booksellers reflect its strength: “An extraordinary and poignant true story. Exposes the dark history of South Africa and a determined fight for what we believe in”; “a wonderful slice of history; emotional read” and “an astonishing and important book, brilliantly written”.
Last year’s winner, Craig Ray, had this to say about the award:
“Winning the Booksellers’ Choice award was a surprise considering the quality of the work that ‘In Black and White’ was shortlisted against. Sports books don’t often win publishing awards, so simply being nominated was recognition itself.”
Awards were also presented for Independent Bookseller and Independent Publisher, each recipient receives Rand 5,000. This year’s winners are: The Book Lounge: Independent Bookseller Award and Berlut Books cc: Independent Publisher Award.
Nielsen Book is delighted to continue to sponsor the Booksellers’ Choice Award and the Sefika Awards, particularly as these awards are not only chosen but presented by the trade in recognition of outstanding contribution to the industry. Nielsen Book sponsors similar awards in Australia and New Zealand.
Peter Harris was born in Durban and grew up in the Eastern Cape. He was educated at Michaelhouse, Rhodes and Warwick University. He practiced law for 15 years at Cheadle, Thompson & Haysom and in the early 1990s was seconded to the National Peace Accord, after which he headed the Monitoring Directorate of the Independent Electoral Commission for the 1994 election. He returned to law and did international consulting for the UN as an election operations expert in Mexico, Haiti and other places. He then was appointed Director of Programmes at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Stockholm for two years. Back in South Africa he co-founded the Resolve Group Management Consultancy of which he is the current Executive Chairman.