Alert! The winners of the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards were announced in Cape Town at a gala function on Saturday evening.
In their 20th year, the awards count as among South Africa’s most prestigious. Worth R50 000 to the winners, they were given in four language categories – English, Afrikaans, Nguni and Sotho – and a “film” category, for a novel showing the greatest promise for translation into a visual medium.
Books maven Jenny Crwys-Williams, M-Net CEO Patricia van Rooyen and M-Net communications director Koo Govender took guests through the three-course banquet, hosted by the Table Bay Hotel at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. The current Miss South Africa, Bokang Montjane, was also in attendance, and spoke about the importance of literacy, in connection with M-Net’s Naledi initiative, which took centrestage ahead of the announcements of the winners.
Without further ado, said winners were:
- English category: Double Negative by Ivan Vladislavic (Umuzi)
- Afrikaans category: Die benederyk by Ingrid Winterbach (Human & Rousseau)
- Nguni category: Inkululeko Isentabeni by Ncedile Saule (Hibbard Publishers)
- Sotho category: Lehutso by KJ Sekele (Hibbard Publishers)
- Film category: Happiness is a Four-letter Word by Cynthia Jele (Kwela)
Winterbach is a previous recipient of the award, having won it in 2007 for Die boek van toeval en toeverlaat. Vladislavic and Jele’s novels, meanwhile, have already been recognised this year, the former having won the UJ Prize for Creative Writing, and the latter the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize – Best First Book – Africa region. Double Negative could go on to complete a rare triple: it’s also shortlisted for South Africa’s richest fiction award, the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, whose winner will be announced this coming Saturday.
Congratulations to all the winners – especially Books LIVE member Cynthia Jele!
Books LIVE attended the M-Net Awards and kept our virtual audience up to date via Twitter:
#livebooks A stop-motion video montage plays in the dining room. An ugly & apparently illiterate duckling refolds itself into bookish swan
#livebooks Van Rooyen begins by thanking Hettie Scholtz, the awards’ organiser, who couldn’t be here tonight. Big applause.
#livebooks Naledi (‘Star’) is a literacy project. It was piloted in Gauteng and W Cape last year. 300 grads so far.
#livebooks This year, Naledi has been extended to KZN & Free State, now offered in English, Zulu, Sotho & Xhosa
#livebooks Miss SA tells the writers in the audience that their books are set to inspire the rising generation
#livebooks Saule thanks his publisher for ‘sticking around with a difficult writer’, & thanks all who publish in African indigenous langs
#livebooks Vladislavic acknowledges photographer David Goldblatt’s contribution to his novel (it was first pub’d jointly w/the latter’s TJ)
#livebooks Vladislavic: in 2day’s world it’s difficult 2 hold on 2 what u do, as a fiction writer – events like these help me keep the faith
#livebooks Overheard: ‘…at these things it’s always 80s fashion for women’. Good thing SA Lit has made it into the 21st C
#livebooks Jele says that her book was inspired in part by Sex in the City – so appropriate that it should win an award like this
#livebooks Jele: it may be a light book, but the issues are genuinely of importance to our generation today
M-Net Literary Awards – Winners Announced
The winners of the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards were announced at a glamorous event at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town on Saturday, 18 June.
In the 20th commemorative year of this prestigious South African book prize, veteran authors swept the boards in the main language categories, while a first-time novelist scooped top honours with a charming story in the competition’s fledgling film category.
The M-Net Literary Awards invites entries in all eleven official South African languages. This year, awards were presented in four different language categories: Afrikaans, English, Nguni and Sotho. The M-Net Literary Award in the film category is reserved for the novel, among all the entries in all the categories, that shows the most potential to be adapted into a commercially-viable feature film.
In the English category, one of the country’s most prominent writers, Ivan Vladislavič received the award for Double Negative. This multi-faceted novel, which was written as a counter-piece to a book of photographs depicting Johannesburg by renowned photographer DavidGoldblatt, was singled out by the judges as “a stylistic delight with which little can compare”.
Double Negative was commended for its special significance in the current age of overlapping virtual realities and deep hunger for real visual surfaces rather than imagined depth.
Afrikaans author Ingrid Winterbach completed a hat trick with her innovate latest novel Die Benederyk. She nabbed her first M-Net Literary Award, written under the pseudonym Lettie Viljoen, in 1994 for Karolina Ferreira and continued her winning streak with Die boek van toeval en toeverlaat in 2007.
Both the Sotho and Nguni category winners have been familiar faces at literary awards ceremonies over the past decade.
It was a first win at the M-Net Literary Awards for K.J. Sekele, however, who have been on previous shortlist. His arresting novel about adoption and family roles in African families, Lehutšho, was also a strong contender in the film category.
In the Nguni category, popular Xhosa novelist, Ncedile Saule added another M-Net Literary Award to his collection with Inkululeko Isentambeni. This reverting political narrative impressed with the way it explored human tragedy with inventive stylistic structures.
The much-contested film category was won by debutant Cynthia Jele, who told the audience in her acceptance speech how Happiness is a Four Letter Word had been written in response to Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. She decided to read every single novel recommended by the famous talk show host, but was so dampened by the ‘heaviness’ of so many of the stories, that she decided to write the book she, and many young women like her, would want to read.
Jele’s novel tells the story of sistas and fashionistas without shame who frequent the malls in the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg.
According to the judges, Happiness is a Four Letter Word is a novel with an abundance of riches and dialogue that will set the screen alight.
The winners in each category received R50 000 as apposed to the R30 000 from previous years. All the winning novels are available on sale at Kalahari.net and at the gala event M-Net confirmed its commitment to the South African book by announcing that it would support sales of the winning books with an extensive marketing campaign on the M-Net television channels.
The broadcaster also plans to extend the M-Net Naledi initiave which encourages a culture of reading from a young age by facilitating fun-filled reading programmes at rural and less privileged schools.
Issued by M-NetCorporate Communications.
- Double Negative by Ivan Vladislavic
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- Die benederyk by Ingrid Winterbach
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