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Thabo Jijana wins the 2016 Ingrid Jonker Prize for Failing Maths and My Other Crimes

Thabo Jijana wins the 2016 Ingrid Jonker Prize for Failing Maths and My Other Crimes


Failing Maths and My Other CrimesAlert! Thabo Jijana has been announced as the winner of the 2016 Ingrid Jonker Prize, for his collection Failing Maths and My Other Crimes.

Jijana was born in Peddie, in the Eastern Cape, and is currently enrolled for an MA at Rhodes University. He won the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award in 2014 and was longlisted for the 2015 Short Story Day Africa Prize; his story "Native Mayonnaise" appears in the 2015 SSDA anthology Water. Jijana is also the author of a searing first-person investigation into the taxi industry, Nobody’s Business, published in 2014.

Failing Maths and My Other Crimes was published by uHlanga Press.

Read an excerpt here!

From the Ingrid Jonker Prize Committee"

In a fiercely-contested struggle among seven eligible volumes, Jijana’s debut emerged victorious. Jijana was championed by one judge in particular, who described his debut, with its ‘subtle, wry and memorable title’, as ‘a rich and satisfying collection where, unusually, every poem strikes something hard and vital.’ The judge went on to remark that ‘Jijana has a painterly way with the image, capturing in impossibly few words a picture that does most of the poem’s outer work, so that the poet himself can get on with what it is he is trying to say’.

The judge observed that ‘while the self is – in any enquiring poet’s obsessions – an important project, what emerges here is not the self as the bull’s eye, but the self as link – between histories, times, generations and people’.

Two other entries also received judges’ commendations: Matric Rage by Genna Gardini - also published by uHlanga - and The Attribute of Poetry by Elisa Galgut, published by Modjaji Books.

Matric RageThe Attribute of Poetry

The judges praised Gardini's "lyrical-experimental imagination", the "edginess" and "sexiness" of her debut collection, and the "wonderfully varied scenarios" of her poems.

Galgut’s collection was described as "a stunning debut" that "moves with great ease from the personal to the philosophical".

This year’s judges were Karin Schimke, Jim Pascual Agustin and Professor Sally-Ann Murray. Judges of the Ingrid Jonker prize are unaware of one another’s identities until judging is complete.

The Ingrid Jonker Prize is awarded in alternate years to the best debut collections in English or Afrikaans. The winner receives a bronze medal and a cash prize dependant on the interest accumulated in an account originally established for this purpose.

The 2016 Ingrid Jonker Prize will be awarded at the Franschhoek Literary Festival on Saturday, 14 May at 5:15 PM in the Council Chamber.

Ronel de Goede is the convenor of the Ingrid Jonker committee. The other committee members are Leon de Kock, Finuala Dowling, Diana Ferrus and Danie Marais.

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