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“How You Say Things is Beginning to Matter More than What You Say” – Read Damon Galgut’s Barry Ronge Fiction Prize Speech

Damon Galgut

Arctic SummerDamon Galgut was named the winner of the 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize on Saturday night, for his novel Arctic Summer, and noted a certain “happy irony” in his acceptance speech.

The award celebrates the best of South African fiction from the previous year, and is awarded to “a novel of rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction”. It is presented along with the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, which went to to Jacob Dlamini for Askari: A story of collaboration and betrayal in the anti-apartheid struggle. Each winner receives R100 000.

The judges called Arctic Summer a “brilliant evocation of the life of EM Forster, from an author writing at the height of his powers”.

Read Galgut’s speech:

Damon Galgut

Thank you for this award, I’m extremely grateful to have it. I must confess I felt ever so slightly overlooked by you guys until now!

It’s probably a slight irony that when I do receive it, it’s for a book that doesn’t deal with South Africa at all. But I’d like to take it as a happy irony that suggests perhaps in fiction, if not in real life, how you say things is beginning to matter more than what you say.

I’ve been very blessed in having wonderful South African publishers in Umuzi, I’d like to thank everybody who works there who’s promoted and helped the book, most especially Fourie Botha who buys me alcohol whenever I need it, every second day or so.

I’d also like to say a thank-you to my long-time editor and friend Alison Louwry, who’s been with me from the first book through to this one. Thank you all very much.

View some photos from the event:


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