Craig Higginson and Terry Westby-Nunn were announced as the winners of the 2012 University of Johannesburg Creative Writing Prize earlier this month, for The Landscape Painter and The Sea of Wise Insects respectfully.
In an article for the Mail & Guardian, Craig MacKenzie, Professor of English at the University of Johannesburg and one of the judges of this year’s prize, considers what it is that makes these two books stand out:
Craig Higginson has won the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Prize for his historical novel The Landscape Painter (Picador Africa, 2011). One half of this engrossing novel is set in post-war Britain; the other half is a series of narratives set in gold-fever Johannesburg and Boer War Natal.
The central figure is the painter of the book’s title, Arthur Bailey, whom we first meet as a reclusive elderly man eking out an existence as an artist in straitened England in the 1940s.
A young girl’s moving into an adjoining room in the boarding house in which he lives sets off a string of painful memories about the great love affair of his life and these form the substance of the novel.
- The Landscape Painter by Craig Higginson
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