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2017 Alan Paton shortlist

 
 
It is finally time to reveal the shortlist for South Africa’s most prestigious book award, the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, in association with Porcupine Ridge. The winner, who will receive R100 000, will be announced on Saturday June 24.
 
 

The Alan Paton Award
The shortlist for the 2017 Alan Paton Award reflects a diverse range of subjects and historical eras: from human origins to the Marikana of just three years ago, from Cape Town today to wartime Berlin. “These are books that raise critical questions about our past, present and future,” says chairperson Pippa Green. “The big question being asked is who are we?”

Under Nelson Mandela Boulevard: Life Among the Stowaways, Sean Christie (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
This is the fascinating account of journalist Sean Christie’s time spent amongst the Tanzanian stowaways who live rough under the Nelson Mandela Boulevard flyover in Cape Town. The judges commented on his “brilliant eye” and sympathetic treatment of this subculture. “He’s something of an anti-hero, not the usual macho observer. It is heartbreaking.”

Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race, and the Search for Human Origins, Christa Kuljian (Jacana Media)
Wits academic Christa Kuljian studied the History of Science at Harvard some years ago, and has turned her eye to the search for human origins in SA, and the contemporary context that sullied it. She examines how the thinking on race blighted science for centuries, setting up stereotypes that survive today, “This is the best science and sociology book I’ve read in a long time,” commented one judge. “This book should be taught in high schools.”

Murder at Small Koppie: The Real Story of the Marikana Massacre by Greg Marinovich
The judging panel was united in its admiration of Greg Marinovich’s account of the Marikana massacre. Drawing on his own exhaustive investigations, eyewitness accounts and the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma, he reconstructs that fateful day as well as the events leading up to it. It is damning, gripping reportage, the best book by far, said the judges, on this most diabolical event in our recent history.

My Own Liberator: A Memoir, Dikgang Moseneke (Picador Africa)
The autobiography of South Africa’s retired Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Dikgang Moseneke is an impressive book, explaining how his life was shaped. He recounts the history of his forebears and pays homage to the many communities that played a role in his development. “He is a great figure,” said one judge, “this is a very moving story.”

Letters of Stone: From Nazi Germany to South Africa, Steven Robins (Penguin Books)
In this gutting, deeply personal book, sociologist Steven Robins chronicles his search for the members of his family who died in Germany during the war. His father had fled the Nazis and found shelter in Port Elizabeth, but never spoke a word about the family he left there. When Robins stumbles upon a hidden collection of letters he is able to “hear” those people for the first time. “What is also fascinating is that Robins writes of the Basters in Nambia and the eugenic experiments on indigenous people there which was the starting point for Nazi horrors.”
 

View the 2017 longlist here.

Under Nelson Mandela Boulevard - Life In Cape Town's Stowaway Underground

Book details

 

Darwin's Hunch

 
 
 
 

Murder at Small Koppie

 
 

My Own Liberator

 
 

Letters of Stone

 

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