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The 2014 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award Longlist

Alert! The longlist for the 2014 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award has been announced.

With an ever-increasing number of books being entered for the Sunday Times Literary Awards, formal longlists have been constituted for the first time, curated by the award chairs in consultation with conveners Ben Williams and Michele Magwood. The shortlists will be announced on Saturday 17 May at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

This year’s longlist sees a host of “state of the nation books” in competition with literary biographies and investigations into South Africa’s past, both distant and near.

There are 24 books on this year’s longlist, to be deliberated on by this year’s judging panel comprising Bill Nasson (Chair), Elinor Sisulu and Shaun Johnson.

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, which is given to a book that presents “an illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”. The award was first given in 1989 to Marq de Villiers, for his book White Tribe Dreaming: Notes of an eighth-generation Afrikaner, published by Penguin.

The Great African SocietyA Rumour of SpringThe Zuma YearsThe Things that Could Not be SaidThe Hidden ThreadWhat Dawid KnewA Renegade called Simphiwe
South Africa's Suspended RevolutionChoosing to be FreeSanctuaryThe Accidental AmbassadorInto the River of LifeThe Bushman Winter has ComeFor the FallenMy Second InitiationHow to be a Real GayThe Grand ScamPortrait of a Slave SocietyFractured LivesFood for AfricaThe Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer War
Thomas PringleRichard RiveA Nation in Crisis

Redi Tlhabi won last year’s Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, for her debut work Endings and Beginnings.

The longlist for the 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, also announced today, can be seen here.

Chairperson Bill Nasson’s remarks on the Alan Paton Award longlist:

In the twenty-fifth year of the Alan Paton Award, the books that have come our way have a large and refreshing element of randomness. The titles convey the spread of political, economic, social and cultural concerns, the excitement and the breadth, and the pleasure and the distraction, which should characterise all good non-fiction writing. Inevitably, weighing up the treatment of topics which run all the way from the myths and folklore of the Bushmen or the First People of Southern Africa, to conceptual explorations of how to forge a fresh and progressive agenda for this country’s future, can be as tricky an enterprise as it can be stimulating and enjoyable.

There are conspicuous and recurring themes which animate the authors of these biographies, memoirs, reflections, historical and contemporary studies, investigative probes and other works. These include the troubled state of the post-apartheid nation, and the myriad ways in which lives, incidents and crises illuminate both the known and the less known complexities and ambiguities of South African society. Who sits comfortably ? Upon whose backs are they sitting? How have common people endured all that life has thrown at them, come what may? These authors hold up many mirrors to such questions.

In deciding on which books were most strongly in contention in meeting the criteria of the Alan Paton Award, we were alert to books which are likely to be of enduring importance, which are sufficiently engaging to reach a broad general readership, and which stand for truth – in all its meanings – empathy and the affirmation of moral integrity. In the end, does it not come down to this? Whatever a writer has to say, be it presumptuous or hesitant, depends for its effect on how well he or she can write.

- Bill Nasson (Chair)

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Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    May 4th, 2014 @12:38 #

    Grand list. Mazel tov to all! Lovely to see the smaller and indie publishers represented.


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