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The 2011 South African Literary Award (SALA) Winners


Alert! The 2011 winners of the ever-evolving South African Literary Awards (SALA) have been announced.

The awards, sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture and organised by the wRite Associates have, over the years, come to occupy the position of alternative accolades in relation to South Africa’s mainstream gongs, which include the likes of Sunday Times Literary Awards and the M-Net Literary Awards.

Sifiso MzobePhillippa Yaa de VilliersChris BarnardDan Sleigh

That said, the SALAs pull their weight when it comes to the pot: each recipient receives R30 000, except the person who wins the journalism award, who takes home R40 000.

Here is this year’s crop of categories and winners – congratulations especially to Books LIVE members Phillippa Yaa de Villiers and Leon de Kock:

AfstandeIntimately AbsentIntieme afwesigeDie groot anders-maak Oulap se blouThe Everyday WifeYoung Blood

No winner, meanwhile, was chosen for the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award For Writing in African Languages in South Africa (an award whose name is a short story in itself); and the special Chairperson’s Award will be announced at the Johannesburg awards ceremony on December 8th. (The chair of the awards is Dr Gomolemo Mokae.)

For SALA’s 2009 winners and 2010 winners, click the respective links.

From the official press release:

In selecting the winning submission the panel bases its choice on language and style, literary merit, appeal in terms of being South African, universal and transcending time, enhancing social cohesion and promoting nation building and creativity in terms of innovation, creative use and blending of genre and appropriate application of writing skills.

Dr. Gomolemo Mokae, award winning writer, prominent medical practitioner and chairperson of the Adjudication Panel, said the adjudication process was comprehensive and underpinned by robust debate among the panelists, because of the quality of submissions as well as the variety of the entries.

“This was a fair and rigorous process and the submissions were broadly representative of all languages in the country. Moreover, the quality of submissions on the sixth (6th) year of the competition has improved tremendously.”

Professor Zodwa Motsa, chairperson of the SALA Advisory Board and Professor of literature and linguistics, concurs.

“Adjudicators are not fixated with their own preferences. Ours is a fair, honest and engaging process where we look at all the literary works submitted objectively. We also reward innovation of those writers breaking new ground”.

Raks Morakabe Seakhoa, the SALA Project Director, says the Awards are a complementary facet of initiatives that promote the culture of reading, writing and learning within the country.

Says Seakhoa: “Our primary aim is to take South Africa’s literary heritage to greater heights. Through SALA, we contribute to the nourishment of the minds of the South African society. The celebration of our rich and diverse literary culture is crucial to the fundamental transformation project of the country’s socio-economic, political and cultural landscape”.

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Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    November 15th, 2011 @20:19 #

    A big whoop for Phillippa, especially - and her publisher, Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books. It's great to see The Everyday Wife garner a gong :)

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    November 15th, 2011 @23:36 #

    Amen, Brother Ben. Very tickled for Phillyaa and Colleen -- I loved The Everyday Wife. Big ups to all the winners, esp Leon (translation such a delicate and underrated skill), Sabata Mpho Mokae and that lovely lad, Sifiso, who now has a hat-trick to his name.


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