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‘People asked me: Are you insane?’ – Read Rape author Pumla Dineo Gqola’s Alan Paton Award acceptance speech

2016 Sunday Times Literary Awards
Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole with Bongani Siqoko
Alan Paton AwardRape

Pumla Dineo Gqola won the 2016 Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction on Saturday, for her book Rape: A South African Nightmare.

The judges called it “a timely, fearless and frightening book and an urgent attempt to deal with the unspoken in our society”.

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.


Read Gqola’s acceptance speech:

When I told people I was writing this book many of them said, ‘Who on earth wants to read a book about rape, are you insane?’

Thank you to my ‘insane’ publisher, Melinda Ferguson, who didn’t bat an eyelid when I ambushed her – at what was supposed to be a lunch to discuss a much happier book – with the news that in fact I wanted to write a book about rape.

Thank you to my family and my wonderful sister, who is in tears after almost giving herself an ulcer as we waited tonight. Thank you to the judges, I am honoured to receive this and I’m honoured to have been on a shortlist with these fantastic co-shortlistees. David Attwell, who I’ve admired for a long time, Maxine Case, who is remarkable, and Khaya Dlanga, who is surprising and incredible – I can’t wait to read your next book.

Before the music, and on a much more serious note, I’m also pleased to be living in a country where I can write this book, and at a time when I am hopeful, because we are starting to see a shift in how we are talking about rape and gender violence in this country. If my book can contribute and has contributed a little bit to that conversation, and continues to, thank you.

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

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