Alert! Marguerite Poland’s novel The Keeper was announced as the winner of the 2015 Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Award at the annual gathering of South Africa’s publishers and booksellers last night.
The R20 000 prize is given to the title that South Africa’s booksellers most enjoyed reading, promoting and selling in 2014. The Keeper pipped books by notable authors Zelda la Grange and Nataniël to the post, among a shortlist of five titles.
The award was presented by Simon Skinner, Sales Director at Nielsen Book UK, who said: “I am very excited about presenting this year’s Booksellers’ Choice Award to The Keeper and to offer my warmest congratulations to Marguerite Poland and Penguin.
“We are sorry that Marguerite Poland was unable to attend and receive the award in person. However, this award does have an incredible impact on books and book buying so we encourage everyone to continue to support and sell not only this title but all the shortlisted titles – all of whom deserve to be read.”
The novel is published by Penguin SA; here is its blurb:
When lighthouse keeper Hannes Harker is posted to a remote island with his young wife, he discovers something long-hidden in the tower that causes him to lose his footing and fall.
Seriously injured, Hannes is evacuated to hospital and nursed back to health by Sister Rika, to whom he haltingly tells the story of his life: of his mother’s mysterious death, of his wild young wife, Aletta, and of the desolate island inhabited only by the lighthouse keepers and guano workers – two communities confined together, yet rigidly separated in one of the bleakest places on earth. With the arrival of a figure from Aletta’s past, her own secrets erupt into the present, just as the simmering tensions and injustices endured for so long by the guano workers erupt into a single, shocking act of violence.
Written in the exquisite, haunting prose for which Marguerite Poland is renowned, The Keeper is the story of two generations of lighthouse keepers – men obsessed by their duty to the light – and the wives who accompany them into a life of frightening isolation.
The Keeper is a novel about the power of secrets, the power of love, and the power of stories.
Last year’s winner was the cookbook sensation, Real Meal Revolution.
Congratulations to Penguin and Poland!
Image courtesy of Greaves Photography, Grahamstown