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‘I dedicate this award to me, when I was living in poverty’: Read Nkosinathi Sithole’s Barry Ronge Prize acceptance speech

2016 Sunday Times Literary Awards
Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole with keynote speaker Thuli Madonsela
Barry Ronge Fiction PrizeHunger Eats a Man

Nkosinathi Sithole won the 2016 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize on Saturday, for his debut novel Hunger Eats a Man.

The judges said: “This book does what a book should do; it comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. A poignant, prescient story, enriched by unexpected humour.”

The winners were announced at a black tie event in Sandton. Apart from receiving the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards accolade, each author is also awarded prize money of R100,000.

Echoing the tone of his book, Sithole’s acceptance speech was rousing, and brimming with dark humour:

I think I’m supposed to thank many people but I’m not going to mention them all by name. I’m just going to say thanks to Sunday Times, to Penguin, and to the many people who made this story Hunger Eats a Man possible.

Sadly, these are the people who are suffering, the people who are living in poverty. I think, right now, that maybe I should be dedicating the award to them. But I know they would rather have the money than the dedication. I do want to keep the money. So as someone who has lived in poverty I would rather dedicate this award to me, back then when I was living in poverty.

Pumla Dineo Gqola won the Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction for her book Rape: A South African Nightmare.

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