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The Winners of the 2009/2010 South African Literary Awards

The South African Literary Awards 2009

Alert! The South African Literary Awards – a joint initiative between the wRite Associates, various media and companies, and the DAC – held a function on Tuesday evening to announce the 2009/2010 winners of its various prizes.

As reported earlier on BOOK SA (here and here), Chris Marnewick received the K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award for Shepherds and Butchers. He was joined by sixteen other writers in being honoured – the full list of winners is below.

SALA’s stated raison d’etre is to “celebrate the uniqueness of South African literature in its peculiarity as a product whose germane features echo without apology the roots of the oral base that has developed and perhaps transmogrified over the centuries of imposed and voluntary evolution”. At least, that’s what it says on the announcement invitation, verbatim.

The SALA gongs, in addition to the K Sello Duiker, include the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award, the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award, the Literary Journalism Award and several others. BOOK SA is given to understand that the prizes involve recognition and… well, what else is not certain. There doesn’t seem to be any cash on offer.

This month’s announcement will be followed by an awards gala in December, at which those winners who can attend will receive their SALA trophies.

Shepherds and ButchersDie boek van toeval en toeverlaatThe Book of HappenstanceMhudiVerbeel jou dis somerMagersfontein, O Magersfontein!New CountryStaan in die algemeen nader aan venstersAncient Rites

Here are the winners:

  • K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award: to Chris Marnewick (Shepherds and Butchers), HR Tshianane (Venda – Vhuanzwo), Kabelo D Kgatea (Setswana – Monwana wa Bosupa), Siphatheleni Kula (isiXhosa)
  • Literary Translators Award: to Dirk and Ingrid Winterbach (Die boek van toeval en toeverlaat, from the Afrikaans into The Book of Happenstance)
  • Literary Journalism Award: to BOOK SA’s colleagues Karabo Kgoleng (SAfm) and Maureen Isaacson (Sunday Independent) – hoorah!
  • Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award: to JJ Ngcongwane for “Tikhatsi Letimatima” (siSwati)
  • Literary Lifetime Achievement Award: to Abraham de Vries and Matthew J Mngadi
  • Posthumous Literary Award: to Sol Plaatjie, Etienne le Roux, WK Tamsanqa
  • Poetry Award: to Mxolisi Nyezwa (New Country) and Loftus Marais (Staan in die algemeen nader aan vensters)
  • First-Time-Published Author Award: Diale Tlholwe (Ancient Rites)

Congratulations to all!


Emily Amos reported on the announcement event for BOOK SA:

The winners of the 2009 South African Literary Awards were announced at a media event at the SABC’s Radiopark on Tuesday, 27 July 2010. Run in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council, the Write Associates, Sowetan newspaper and Nutrend publishers, the winners of the eight different South African Literary Awards categories for 2009 were announced during the evening’s proceedings. Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile was present along with such literary luminaries as South Africa’s Poet Laureate, Keorapetse Kgositsile and Nobel laureate, Nadine Gordimer.

With the full awards ceremony to be held on 8 December later this year, Victor Mecoamera from the Sowetan Aggrey Klaaste Nation-building Project played host, saying, “It’s time to celebrate tonight.” He gave thanks to all of SALA’s funders: “Literacy needs more hands and more players.” Mecoamera also spent a moment or two lamenting the lack of published indigenous language works available for sale in the major book retail outlets. Guests of the event were welcomed by the SABC’s Charlotte Mampane who said that the SABC “takes the awards seriously”.

The SALAs are run on a submission basis and the awards adjudication process looks at writing across all of South Africa’s eleven official languages. Zodwa Motswa, CEO of SALA said that the awards, “can be benchmarked against other similar international words” and “serve a purpose in making sure that South Africa records itself properly”. She shared that the writers’ work, “captures the personal canvas of life in South Africa for posterity and celebrates it with the dignity it deserves”. She shared the growth of the scope of the awards since their inauguration in 2005 and recognised the challenge of widening the range of categories in the future. A call for submissions for the 2010 awards has gone out, with a 6 August deadline [see submission form below].

Kgositsile shared the impact winning a SALA had on him and his writing, saying that he finally felt that his work had “a home, with an audience that appreciated its value.” Dr Gomolemo Mokae divulged some of the adjudication process saying it had been a tough and “vigorous” one. He paid tribute to Ngugi wa Thiong’o for originally inspiring him to write in his mother tongue.

CEO of the National Arts Council, Annabel Lebethe, stressed the importance of the awards in “the context of where literacy sits in terms of building a society and culture of reading.” Mashatile said that “words can change us,” allowing people to tell their own stories “of pain, happiness and dreams”, all of which can contribute to “nation-building”. He said that the DAC are proud co-founders of the awards.


Call for submissions: 2010/2011 SALAs

SALA Call for Entries 20100001

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