2015 was a year of near misses for African literature. Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma came painfully close to winning the Man Booker Prize for his debut novel The Fishermen, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o once again topped the betting odds for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and Marlene van Niekerk was on the receiving end of high praise from the Man Booker International Prizes.
However, Hungarian László Krasznahorkai was announced as the winner of the Man Booker International, Belarusian investigative journalist and non-fiction author Svetlana Alexievich was awarded the Nobel and Marlon James won the Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings.
Nevertheless, there were accolades aplenty for African and South African writers.
The Miles Morland Foundation announced the winners of the 2015 Morland Writing Scholarships recently.
The winners each receive a grant of ₤18 000 (about R400 000) to allow them to take a year to write a book.
This year’s winners are Fatin Abbas, Sudan (Non-fiction), Akwaeke Emezi, Nigeria (Fiction), Karen Jennings, South Africa, (Fiction), Bolaji Odofin, Nigeria, (Fiction) and Noo Saro-Wiwa, Nigeria, (Non-fiction).
The Foundation’s Literary Director Michela Wrong said: “Women writers began emerging as an unstoppable force a year ago but this year it was a rout. All five scholarships have gone to women, despite the fact that overall there were more male than female applicants.”
The winners of the inaugural Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature were announced at the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Nigeria in November.
The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize was founded in 2014 by Mukoma Wa Ngugi, English Professor at Cornell University, and Lizzy Attree, director of the Caine Prize, to promote writing in African languages and encourage translation from, between and into African languages.
The winners were selected from 65 manuscripts. 1st Fiction Prize went to Anna Samwel Manyanza for Penzi la Damu and 1st Poetry Prize to Mohammed K Ghassani for N’na Kwetu.
The winners of the 2015 Maskew Miller Longman Literature Awards (MMLLA) – the only literature competition that gives equal weighting to all 11 official South African languages – were announced in November.
The competition explores a different genre each year, this year being Children’s Fiction, and a total of 122 entries were received, with 50 percent in African languages.
Prizes were awarded in Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Setswana, Sepedi and Xitsonga, with Bridget Pitt winning the English section and Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho the Tshivenda.
This year’s Arts Journalism of the Year is Lwandile Fikeni, who also won silver in the “Reviews” category and gold in “Features”.
Broadcaster and writer Nigel Vermaas was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Michele Magwood of the Sunday Times, who hosts the Magwood on Books Podcast on Books LIVE, won a silver award in the Reviews category, while Books LIVE editor Jennifer Malec won a gold award in the News category for her coverage of the “white literary system” debate.
Die wenners van die 2015 kykNET-Rapport Boekpryse en Jan Rabie-Rapportprys is in November aangekondig:
- Nagmusiek deur Stephanus Muller (Fourth Wall Books) – kykNET-Rapport Boekprys, Niefiksie
- Ester deur Kerneels Breytenbach (Human & Rousseau) – kykNET-Rapport Boekprys, Film
- Nagmusiek deur Stephanus Muller (Fourth Wall Books) – Jan Rabie-Rapportprys
The winner of the 2015 Short Story Day Africa competition was announced at the Aké Arts and Book Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria, this year. South African author Cat Hellisen took first place, and R10 000, with her story “The Worme Bridge”.
Second place went to Alex Latimer for “Fierce Symmetry”, while third went to Mark Winkler for “Ink”.
Fred Khumalo’s story “Water No Get Enemy” received a special mention.
Nathan Trantaal is in Oktober aangekondig as die wenner van die 2015 Ingrid Jonker-prys.
Trantaal se oorrompelende debuutbundel Chokers en survivors het in Junie 2013 verskyn en is in 2014 met die ATKV-Woordveertjie Prys vir Poësie bekroon. Die bundel het ook die kortlyste vir die 2013/2014 UJ Debuutprys (Afrikaans) en die 2014 Elizabeth Eybers Prys vir Poësie gehaal.
Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami won the 2015 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for fiction for The Moor’s Account, a historical novel about the disastrous 16th-century De Narváez voyage, which left from Spain for the New World, told from the point of view of a Moroccan slave.
The Moor’s Account was also longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and the Pulitzer Prize.
The Hurston/Wright Foundation, named after Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, was created in 1990 in Washington, United States, with the aim of encouraging writers of African descent and to ensure the survival of literature by black writers.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun was chosen as the “Best of the Best” of the winners of the last decade of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
The Baileys Prize is the UK’s only book award for fiction written by women writers. The “Best of the Best” award was arranged to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the prize.
The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) this year named legendary poet and author Don Mattera as the recipient of the 2015 ACT Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature.
Six Lifetime Achievement Awards were awarded for 2015: Mattera, Thembi Mtshali-Jones (Theatre), Caiphus Semenya (Music), Omar Badsha (Visual Art), Johnny Mekoa (Arts Advocacy) and Alfred Hinkel (Dance).
The Literature category for the ACT Lifetime Achievement Awards was initiated in 2012. Nadine Gordimer was the inaugural recipient, Elsa Joubert was honoured in 2013 and André P Brink last year.
The winners of this year’s South African Literary Awards (SALAs) were announced in November.
The SALAs celebrate literary excellence in all the languages of South Africa. Antjie Krog and Achmat Dangor received Lifetime Achievement Literary Awards, while Literary Posthumous Awards were bestowed on RRR Dhlomo and HIE Dhlomo.
Athol Williams won the fifth Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award for his poem “Streetclass Diseases”.
“Portrait of a Mother and Indiscretion”, by Sindiswa Busku-Mathese, was awarded second place, with “Baleka, what do you know”, by Jim Pascual Agustin, in third.
In 2013, Lotz contributed to Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, which won that year’s British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology.
The inaugural Minara Aziz Hassim Literary Awards, for writers from KwaZulu-Natal, were won by Carol Campbell and ZP Dala.
Achille Mbembe won the prestigious Geschwister Scholl-Preis for the German edition of his latest book, Critique de la raison nègre.
The prize is awarded by the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers (Bavaria) and the City of Munich, and honours a book which “testifies to intellectual independence and promotes civil liberties, moral, intellectual and aesthetic courage and to give impetus to the present awareness of responsibility”. The prize comes with an endowment of 10 000 Euros (roughly R150 000).
The prize jury called Kritik der schwarzen Vernunft a “powerfully written book” that “comes at exactly the right time”.
Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma was awarded the inaugural 2015 FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Award for his debut novel, The Fishermen.
The FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards were launched this year by the Financial Times and OppenheimerFunds to “identify and reward talent among multiple countries and regions in the developing world”.
This year, the awards recognised artists from Latin America and the Caribbean, filmmakers from Asia-Pacific and writers from Africa and the Middle East. The winners were Obioma, Yuhang Ho of Malaysia for his film Trespassed, and artist Cristina Planas of Peru.
Die wenners van die 2015 ATKV-Woordveertjies is in September tydens ‘n glansryke geleentheid te D’Aria Wynlandgoed aangekondig.
Die groot pryse het gegaan aan Francois Smith (Prosaprys), Antjie Krog (Poësie), Chanette Paul (Liefdesroman), Martin Steyn (Spanningslektuur) en Marie-Louise Steyn (Romanses).
Die Woordwystoekenning vir Woordeboeke en Taalgidse is deur die University of KwaZulu-Natal Press ontvang vir Die Ju |’hoan Tsumkwe Dialect/Prentewoordeboek vir Kinders/Children’s Picture Dictionary (2014) terwyl Storiewerf die Toekenning vir Leesbevordering in Afrikaans ontvang het. ‘n Spesiale ATKV-Woordveertjie is aan Litnet toegeken vir Uitnemende Bydrae tot die Woordkuns.
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 in August.
The R20 000 prize is given to the book 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.
Members of the SA Booksellers Association and the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (PASA) gathered for their annual celebration of booksellers and publishers in August, for the roles they play in promoting literacy and a culture of reading by producing and selling quality books in South Africa.
Best Trade Bookseller of the Year (Chain Store) went to Exclusive Books, while Best Trade Bookseller of the Year (Independent) was awarded to The Book Lounge.
Pan Macmillan South Africa won Best Trade Publisher of the Year.
Lauren Beukes received the 2015 Mbokodo Award for Creative Writing.
The Mbokodo Awards highlight the contribution by women in the ongoing development of the arts in South Africa.
The awards celebrate women of different ages, from all cultural groups and are awarded in 20 categories.
- Shortlist for the 2015 Mbokodo Awards Announced – Including Lauren Beukes, Helen Moffett, Rehana Rossouw and Angela Makholwa
Earlier this year the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State, honoured Professor Zakes Mda with an Honorary Doctor of Technology Degree in Language Practice for his contribution to language practice in areas of contemporary literature and creative writing.
Mda said: “What you have done is to defy popular wisdom as first enunciated by Jesus in Mark 6:4, and I quote: ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own home.’ Of course, I am not so conceited as to view myself as any kind of prophet, I am merely acknowledging and appreciating the fact that this university has become home since the last time I was fêted here two years ago, and established lasting friendships … the city of Bloemfontein is my own neighbourhood.”
On 24 July, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London bestowed an Honorary Doctorate in Literature upon Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee, in recognition of his contribution to global literature.
At the graduation ceremony Kai Easton, senior lecturer in English at SOAS, paid tribute to Coetzee, remembering in agreement when South African press called him “the Beckett of the Boland, the Kafka of the Karoo, the Faulkner of the veld” some 20 years ago. However, she takes the comparison further, equating him to Bach and Roger Federer.
Incredible Journey was officially launched at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at a discussion panel hosted by last year’s winner, Nick Mulgrew, with three of this year’s participants, Bridget Pitt, Lidudumalingani, and Megan Ross.
Andrew Salomon was the Judges’ Choice Winner for Best Story with “Train 124″: “A bleak but fine, immersive evocation of autistic-spectrum experience, this story told with dark humour and narrated with considerable skill never breaks the considerable tension.”
The anthology was launched at The Book Lounge in Cape Town in August.
Zambian author Namwali Serpell won the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story, “The Sack”.
Serpell received £10 000, while each shortlistee received £500. In an unprecedented move, Serpell announced in her acceptance speech that she would be sharing the prize with her fellow shortlistees – a fine gesture indeed.
The winners of the two 2014/2015 University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African Writing in English were announced in June.
As usual, the formal prize-giving ceremony was held later in the year.
Jacob Dlamini and Damon Galgut were announced as the winners of the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards at a gala dinner in June.
Dlamini received the Alan Paton Award for Askari: A Story of Collaboration and Betrayal in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle, while Galgut was awarded the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for Arctic Summer.
Jonny Steinberg received an honourable mention from the judges for A Man of Good Hope.
Nigerian author Pemi Aguda was announced as the winner of the 2015 Writivism Short Story Prize at a ceremony in Kampala, Uganda.
Aguda won the award for her short story “Caterer, Caterer”, while Adeola Opeyemi’s “Being a Man” received an honourable mention.
The other writers on the 2015 Writivism shortlist were Dayo Adewunmi Ntwari (Rwanda, for “Devil’s Village”), Nnedinma Jane Kalu (Nigeria, for “Social Studies”) and local author Saaleha Bhamjee (South Africa, for “Dream”).
The first ever Indigenous Languages Publishing Programme Author Awards were held in Johannesburg in September.
The awards, a joint initiative between the Department of Arts & Culture (DAC) and the South African Book Development Council (SABDC), rewarded the authors of 19 books in the genres of poetry, novels, short stories, drama and reference, with a R15 000 each.
Among the winners were Gcina Mhlophe, David wa Maahlamela and Mzi Mngadi.
The winners of the 2015 Media24 Books Literary Awards were announced in Cape Town in June.
Willem Anker (for Buys: ’n grensroman), Michiel Heyns (for A Sportful Malice), Antjie Krog (for Mede-wete), Mark Gevisser (for Lost and Found in Johannesburg), Andre Eva Bosch, and Fiona Moodie were crowned as the winners of the six R35 000 cash prizes this year.
The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) was awarded the 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award at a cermony in Stockholm, Sweden, in June.
PRAESA, which was established by the late Neville Alexander in 1992, is an independent research and development unit affiliated with the University of Cape Town.
Die UJ-pryse vir Skeppende Skryfwerk in Afrikaans is vanjaar vir die 15de keer toegeken.
Uit ŉ totaal van 55 inskrywings is Willem Anker se grensverskuiwende Buys: ŉ Grensroman as wenner van die UJ-prys aangewys, met Stephanus Muller se magistrale Nagmusiek wat met die UJ-debuutprys bekroon is.
Lesley Nneka Arimah was this year’s Africa Regional Winner of the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which is open to unpublished work by writers from the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.
South Africans Jayne Bauling and Fred Khumalo made the shortlist for the prize but they were pipped to the post by the Nigerian author.
The other Regional winners were Asia: Siddhartha Gigoo, “The Umbrella Man” (India), Canada and Europe: Jonathan Tel, “The Human Phonograph” (United Kingdom), Caribbean: Kevin Jared Hosein, “The King of Settlement 4″ (Trinidad and Tobago) and Pacific: Mary Rokonadravu, “Famished Eels” (Fiji).
Andrew Miller won the first Dinaane Debut Fiction Award – previously the European Union Literary Award – for his novel Dub Steps.
The announcement was made by the Jacana Literary Foundation at a ceremony at the Wits University Writing Centre in May.
The award is open to “unpublished English-language manuscripts by debut writers” and comes with R35 000 prize money. The winning manuscript is published by Jacana Media.
Robin Malan was awarded a gold medal by the English Academy of Southern Africa in April.
Malan was honoured by the academy for his service in education, theatre and publishing. A gold medal is the highest honour the academy bestows.
The Academy said: “Despite his own literary achievements, Robin’s most significant contribution to English is his lifelong, unwavering encouragement of young people to appreciate and to produce English literature in southern Africa.”
In April, it was announced that Orders of Ikhamanga were to be bestowed on Themba Patrick Magaisa and posthumously on Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane.
The honours were to be awarded on Freedom Day, 27 April, but the ceremony would be postponed because of the xenophobic violence in the country.
The Orders were handed out in December. Magaisa was praised for his “outstanding contribution to the development of indigenous literature in South Africa”, and Mzamane for his “excellent contribution to the development of African literature and the upliftment of African languages on the global stage”.
The winners of the inaugural Jalada Prizes for Literature – sponsored by the Kwani Trust – were announced in early March by Jalada, a pan-African writers collective.
This year’s judges were Sofia Samatar, Richard Ali, Okwiri Oduor, Clifton Gachagua, Anne Moraa, Kiprop Kimutai, Abdul Adanis, Stephen Derwent Partington and Moses Kilolo.
The main prize was awarded to Ugandan writer and poet Lillian Akampuria Aujo.
Die Raad van die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns het pas die wenners van hul 2015-bekronings bekend in Maart gemaak.
Songeziwe Mahlangu won the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature for debut fiction for Penumbra.
Neema Komba was the winner of the Etisalat Flash Fiction competition.
Books LIVE had the privilege of announcing the winners of this year’s Bloody Parchment short story competition. Joint first place went to Bernice Mills (South Africa) and Benjamin Knox (UK).
Runners-up this year were Austin Malone and Belinda Lewis, with finalists (in alphabetical order) being Toby Bennett, Dave-Brendon de Burgh, John Paul Davies, Elaine Dodge, EL Garcia, Abigail Godsell, Icy Sedgwick, Jason Mykl Snyman, and Nic Zav.
The winners of the 2015 Windham Campbell Literature Prizes were announced in February. The prize, in its third year, is awarded to “honour and support writers anywhere in the world writing in English”, and comes with prize money of $150 000.
There are three categories – fiction, nonfiction, and drama – and three winners in each category.
The 2015 winners were, in fiction: Teju Cole, Helon Habila and Ivan Vladislavić; in nonfiction: Edmund de Waal, Geoff Dyer and John Jeremiah Sullivan; and in drama: Jackie Sibblies Drury, Helen Edmundson and Debbie Tucker Green.
On Monday, 2 February, André Brink accepted the honorary doctorate bestowed on him by the Belgian Francophone Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Louvain-la-Neuve, during an extravagant ceremony held at the Aula Magna exhibition centre and auditorium.
Brink delivered an address expressing his gratitude to those present and especially those who continue to probe and study, always searching for more and probing for a response. During his address he insists that, if we did not search, if we did not pose questions, there would be no adventure.
“Essentially it is all that matters: to continue looking for a response,” he said.
The prize is awarded to novels and literary works that explore the relationship between humans and nature and support “the values of humanistic ecology”.
- Megan Ross Wins the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award for “One of the World’s Best Writers’ Retreats”
- Yet Another Glittering Accolade for Athol Fugard: 2015 Naledi Award for Best New South African Script
- Athol Fugard Receives Lifetime Achievement Award at the Inaugural South African Independent Publishers Awards
- Peter Verhelst wen die 2015 Herman De Coninck-prys by die Nationale Poëzieweek in die Lae Lande
- Orde van die Goue Pen en Orde van die Beiteltjie toegeken vir bydrae tot bevordering van Afrikaanse woordkuns
- Alfred Schaffer Wins the 2014 Awater Poetry Prize for Mens dier ding
- Moira Forjaz: Mozambique 1975/1985 is Jenny Crwys-Williams’ 2015 Book of the Year
- William Kentridge Wins Artist of the Year at the Apollo Awards 2015
- Presenting the Winners of the 2015 Sunday Times Food Weekly Cookbook Awards
- Presenting the 2015 IBBY SA Honour Roll
- Adriaan van Dis Wins the 2015 Constantijn Huygens Prize for Complete Works
- An Excerpt from South African-born Author Rosie Rowell’s Leopold Blue – Winner of the 2015 Branford Boase Award
- Sufi Narratives of Intimacy by Sa’diyya Shaikh is Winner of the UCT Book Award 2015
- Deon Meyer weer aangewys as skrywer van die “Afrikaanse leesboek van die jaar” by 2015 Huisgenoot Tempo-toekennings
- Afrikamasutra by Ilse de Korte Receives the 2014 Hiddingh-Currie Award for Academic Excellence