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Books LIVE Exclusive: 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards Judging Panels, Plus More Prize Money for Winners


Alert! Books LIVE can reveal the judging panels for the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards.

The annual Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and Barry Ronge Fiction Prize are considered South Africa’s most prestigious literary prizes, and this year the prize money has risen to R100 000 for each winner. (Previously, winners took home R75 000.)

The 2014 Sunday Times Literary Awards were won by Max du Preez, for A Rumour of Spring (Alan Paton Award), and Claire Robertson, for The Spiral House (Fiction Prize).

The longlists for the 2015 edition of the prize are being finalised and will be revealed in the Sunday Times in April next year. The shortlists will be announced at the 2015 Franschhoek Literary Festival, and the winners announced in Johannesburg at a gala event on 27 June.

Without further ado, here are the judges for the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards:

2015 Alan Paton Award Judges

Bill NassonWorld War One and the People of South AfricaBill Nasson (Chair)

Prof Bill Nasson is a Professor of History at the University of Stellenbosch. A historian of modern South Africa and the British Empire, he has also taught at UCT and universities in the US, the UK, Ireland and Australia. A former editor of The Journal of African History, he has published across a wide range of fields, including oral history, military history, education and politics. His books include Britannia’s Empire: A Short History of the British Empire (2006); Springboks on the Somme: South Africa in the Great War, 1914-1918 (2007); The War for South Africa: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (2010), co-editor, The Cambridge History of South Africa, Volume 2 (2011), South Africa at War 1939-1945 (2012) and The War At Home: Women and Families in the Anglo-Boer War. His latest book is World War One and the People of South Africa.

Pregs GovenderLove and CouragePregs Govender

Pregs Govender is The South African Human Rights Commission Deputy Chair and leads its work on water, sanitation, health and access to information. A political activist since 1974, Govender qualified as a teacher. She contributed to education, trade union and women’s movements. As an MP, she initiated SA’s Women’s Budget in the 1994 budget debates and chaired parliament’s Women’s Committee, ensuring 80 percent of its legislative priorities were enacted. In 2001, she chaired hearings on HIV/Aids, during President Mbeki’s term. After being the only MP to register opposition to the Arms Deal in the Defence Budget vote, Govender resigned. In the 10th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, in 2012, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson concluded by quoting Govender’s book, Love and Courage: A Story of Insubordination. Govender’s work is referenced in over 100 leadership, feminism and policy texts across the world.

Shaun JohnsonThe Native CommissionerShaun Johnson

Shaun Johnson studied at Rhodes University and was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. After a long career as an anti-apartheid journalist, editor and newspaper executive, he was asked to establish the Mandela Rhodes Foundation in 2003, of which he is currently the CEO. Johnson is an award-winning author. His first book was the non-fiction bestseller Strange Days Indeed, while in 2007 his novel The Native Commissioner won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in Africa, the MNet Literary Award, and the Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Book of the Year. The novel was subsequently prescribed as an English setwork by the Independent Examinations Board in South Africa.

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2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize Judges

Dr Annari van der MerweAnnari van der Merwe (Chair)

Dr Annari van der Merwe began her career as children’s book publisher at Tafelberg in 1978, and in 1993 established the groundbreaking new South African publishing imprint Kwela Books for Naspers. She was also the founding publisher of Umuzi, for Random House, in 2005. Annari studied literature at the universities of Port Elizabeth and Rhodes and at the Utrecht Rijksuniversiteit in the Netherlands. She obtained a PhD at Rhodes while teaching there in the Department of Afrikaans-Nederlands, and from 1978 to the mid-1980s she lectured part-time in the Afrikaans Department of the University of the Western Cape.

Elinor SisuluWalter and Albertina SisuluElinor Sisulu

Elinor Sisulu is a writer and human rights activist, having studied history, English literature, development studies and feminist theory at institutions in Zimbabwe, Senegal and the Netherlands. Her biography of her parents-in-law, Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime won the 2003 Noma Award for publishing in Africa. Elinor’s involvement in book promotion and literary development efforts for many years has culminated in her work with the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation. She has been a judge for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Sanlam Youth Literature Prize and the Penguin Prize for African Writing.

Rustum KozainGroundworkRustum Kozain

Rustum Kozain studied English literature at UCT, where he also taught in the Department of English, offering courses in literature, film, popular culture studies, and creative writing. He has published two volumes of poetry, This Carting Life (2005) and Groundwork (2012), both of which garnered the Olive Schreiner Prize, as well as, respectively, the Ingrid Jonker Prize and the Herman Charles Bosman Award. His poetry has been published in translation in French, Indonesian, Italian and Spanish. He has compiled and written learning materials for two high school anthologies, South African Short Stories Since 1994 (2006) and Voices from All Over (2007) for Oxford University Press SA. In 2013, he was contributing editor for Chimurenga’s Chronic. He also writes the occasional book review and dabbles in prose fiction and journalism.

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