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The 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize Longlist

Alert! The longlist for the 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize 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 is the fourteenth edition of the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, first awarded in 2001 to Zakes Mda for his novel The Heart of Redness (Oxford University Press). The prize criteria stipulate that the winner should be “a novel of rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction.” The prize is open to works in English, including those that have been translated.

Speculative fiction joins crime as an influence on this year’s longlist, which is however dominated by moving stories of South Africans learning to cope with loss.

There are 23 books on the longlist, to be deliberated on by this year’s judging panel comprising Annari van der Merwe (Chair), Sindiwe Magona and Ivan Vladislavić.

The Shining GirlsFalse RiverMy Children Have FacesLion HeartThe Blacks of Cape TownThe New GirlFlat Water TuesdayPenumbraThe Sculptors of MapungubweWay Back HomeUntitledSmall ThingsA Hill of FoolsWater MusicThe Imagined ChildThe Spiral House Call It DogRumoursStepping OutZebra CrossingWolf, WolfWalkSister-Sister

Karen Jayes won last year’s Sunday Times Fiction Prize, and R75 000, for her debut novel, For the Mercy of Water.

The longlist for the 2014 Alan Paton Award, also announced today, can be seen here.

Chairperson Annari van der Merwe’s remarks on the longlist:

The picture of our society that emerges from this year’s submissions for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize is not a cheerful one. Together the novels on the long list explore practically every pressing social ill – corruption, greed, violence, drug addiction, alcoholism, the rape and abuse of women and children, the plight of minorities. A few perversions are thrown in as well, from an addiction to online pornography to torture and serial killing. It is clear that the freedom of expression the country enjoys has liberated writers to be critical and exploratory in a way that was inconceivable prior to 1994.

It is striking that most of the novels feature first-person narrators who present a limited, subjective perspective on events. This seems to suggest that in a time as fractured and fraught as ours, an all-knowing, all-seeing narrator who is able to chronicle events in an impartial way has become a rarity.

By and large, the novels were well-designed and attractively produced. We were also struck by the generally high quality of the technical editing. Unfortunately, the structural and stylistic editing was not of the same standard. In a good number of cases we felt that a book had not been developed to its full potential, or had been overwritten, and that a stronger editorial hand would have made a decisive difference.

As could be expected, the literary merits of the novels vary greatly. However, we feel that there are some exceptional books in the running for this year’s prize.

- Annari van der Merwe (Chair)

The Longlist

Book details


Recent comments:

  • Maire
    May 4th, 2014 @10:58 #

    Huge congrats to all those longlisted. Such a brilliant selection of quality reading; I don't envy the judges at all!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    May 4th, 2014 @16:49 #

    What a fabulous list, although I do wish Bloomsbury would stop entering Justin Cartwright for South African prizes (the first line of his Wiki entry reads: "Justin Cartwright is a British novelist.") Particularly delighted to see C.A. Davids here with her first novel, flying the Modjaji flag. Also most interested in Annari's comments about editing... plus ca change!


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