Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

2017 Brittle Paper Literary Awards winners announced

The winners of the 2017 Brittle Papers Literary Awards has been announced! The awards recognise the “finest, original pieces of literature by Africans available online for free.”

As per the announcement:

We announced it to mark our seventh anniversary. Its five categories—Fiction ($200), Poetry ($200), Creative Nonfiction/Memoir ($200), Essays/Think Pieces ($200), and the Anniversary Award ($300) for writing published by us—reflect our efforts to capture the range and variations of literary dialogue on the continent. Across these five categories, 48 pieces of writing, each beautifully crafted and thought-provoking, were shortlisted based on their quality, significance and impact.

THE BRITTLE PAPER AWARD FOR ESSAYS/THINK PIECES

Read: The Brittle Paper Award for Essays/Think Pieces: Meet the Nominees

From a class of essays and think pieces that situate the African writer’s work within global conversations, we chose Sisonke Msimang’s brilliant commentary on black women as figures of intellectual power, “All Your Faves Are Problematic: A Brief History of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stanning and #BlackGirlMagic.”

Msimang explores, with the eye of the scholar and pop culture critic, the forces that have contributed to Chimamanda Adichie’s dominance in the global imagination. The piece may be about Adichie in subject, but it is also driven by larger questions about how we produce knowledge in the age of social media. Drawing from a wide array of discursive fields – literature, feminism, politics, and fashio – Msimang offers a hard and searing look at how questions of race intersect with global intellectual iconography and social media culture.

“All Your Faves Are Problematic” is published by Africa is a Country, a remarkable intellectual project that has contributed immensely to changing the rules, practices, and conventions on how we produce knowledge about the continent.

THE BRITTLE PAPER AWARD FOR FICTION ($200)

Read: The Brittle Paper Award for Fiction: Meet the Nominees

From a box of ten short stories that range from the startling to the tragic, we chose Megan Ross’s aching romance, “Farang.” A study of intimacy and companionship set in Thailand and South Africa, a reflection on love and language, on foreknowledge and inevitability, “Farang” is wrought in visual prose so lyrical and controlled it moves like a spring. In “Farang,” we witness a dialogue among subject, style, and aesthetic experimentation, but one that is accessible in its complexity.

It is time, also, to salute the unrivaled work that Short Story Day Africa Prize is doing for short fiction on the continent. The prize’s top three entries for 2016, from the collective’s most recent anthology, Migrations, all made our shortlist. The collective has left its mark on the 2010s literary scene, and we are all the better for it.

THE BRITTLE PAPER AWARD FOR POETRY ($200)

Read: The Brittle Paper Award for Poetry: Meet the Nominees

From a pool of ten poems that range from stylistic daringness to psychological acuity, we chose J.K. Anowe’s thematically deviant, Self-centric “Credo to Leave.” An interrogation of psychological make-up, delivered in a voice grounded in vulnerability and deep existential pain, “Credo to Leave” is an entry point to an emerging sub-tradition in the poetry of Nigeria’s new generation. It is a sub-tradition preoccupied with the visceral, personal, and psychological—internal void, suicidal tendencies, masturbation, sex—with digging into the Self. Pegged in the psyche, its introspection—the focus on speaking into oneself rather than speaking out to the world—is an outlet for a confessional generation not afraid to voice its internal struggles and flaws, to make art of it. Given the emotional and psychological state of its voice, the wording of “Credo to Leave,” the abrupt clarity of it, demonstrates psychological acuity, clinical depression unadorned. “Credo to Leave” is a revolt.

“Credo to Leave” is published by Expound, a magazine that is often a conduit for the development of new talent, but J.K. Anowe’s emergence began from Praxis magazine’s poetry chapbook series. We recognize and applaud here the priceless work that homegrown platforms put in to usher in new voices, particularly as these platforms are themselves run by new voices.

THE BRITTLE PAPER AWARD FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION ($200)

Read: The Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction/Memoir: Meet the Nominees

From a collection of eight creative nonfiction pieces that range from the explosive to the breathtakingly innovative, we chose Hawa Jande Golakai’s witty rebuttal to stereotypes, “Fugee.” An affecting interrogation of the Ebola crisis in Liberia, as well as of identity and the life of an artist-cum-clinical scientist, “Fugee” is delivered in a beguiling blend of humorous, quotable, often-lyrical sentences. Golakai documents one of the most precarious moments for the African continent with the seriousness it deserves but also the private, subjective dimension it requires. The essay is the perfect modulation of distance and nearness, pain and humor, social commentary and the confessional. In many ways, “Fugee” exemplifies, in the deftness of its composition and the humaneness of its delivery, Ellah Allfrey’s notion of a “specifically African genre of creative nonfiction.”

Golakai’s piece is available to read for free on Granta.com, but it was originally published in Safe House, a groundbreaking nonfiction collection edited by Ellah Allfrey.

THE BRITTLE PAPER ANNIVERSARY AWARD ($300)

Read: The Brittle Paper Anniversary Award: Meet the Nominees

From a mix of twelve conversation-driving fiction, poetry and nonfiction published on our site, we chose Chibuihe Obi’s brave, impactful “We’re Queer, We’re Here.” A query into the paucity of Nigerian literature about queerness and an expatiation of the immediate violence that so empowers homophobia, Obi’s work is all the more important given the unfortunate circumstance of his kidnapping – which only strengthens his work’s premise. Published, in a weird coincidence, on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the essay racked up 2,000 views in its first week, and more than 6,000 views in its first five weeks and, five months later, is inching towards 8,000 views, at a rate that might move it into our top-20 most-viewed posts within months.

Congratulations to Sisonke Msimang, Megan Ross, J.K. Anowe, Hawa Jande Golakai and Chibuihe Obi.

The Short Story is Dead (vol 3) Shortlist is Announced!

BLM LogoAfter much deliberation, we present you with the shortlisted stories for the 3rd volume of our annual anthology of short fiction, The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story.

As with our previous instalments of The Short Story is Dead, we have had the pleasure of engaging with the promising work of some of the emergent writers from the continent; all the stories to be published in this year’s volume reaffirm our belief in the necessity of affording young African writers an opportunity to add their own voices to the ever cacophonous debates that seek to question our present and future.

The following stories have been shortlisted:

 

Rudo by Eliza Mabuza (South Africa)

The Scent of Living Wills by Michel Tumuhimbise (Uganda)

Tanganyika ABCs by Tina Chiwashira (Zimbabwe)

Petrichor by Osemegbe Aito (Nigeria)

Firewater by Mary Ononokpono (Nigeria)

Eye Color by Mwikali Mutune (Kenya)

 

Thank you very much to everyone who entered and congratulations to all the writers who made the shortlist – the range of themes and overall quality of the entries continues to greatly impress us.

The winners will be announced at a launch of The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story (Vol. 3) in late 2017. We will announce the date soon. The winning short story will receive R5 000, and the second and third runner-up stories will receive R1 500 and R500 respectively.

 

Shortlist for 2017 South African Literary Awards announced

2017 marks the highest milestone of South African Literary Awards (SALA), as the shortlist includes, for the first time, the !Xam and !Kun languages.

Listed under the Posthumous Literary Awards, five legendary contributors are drawn from Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd collection of !Xam and !Kun narratives, verses, songs, chants, drawings and other materials consisting of over 150 notebooks running in some 13 000 pages which is considered a unique cultural and literary collection which has been recognised by United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Council (UNESCO) and entered into the memory of the World Register.

The materials deal with the land, the rain, the history of the first people, the origin of the moon and stars, animals, cosmology, beliefs, ceremonies, art and information of the
individual lives of the informants who had come to Cape Town as prisoners of the British Crown and were released into Bleek’s custody at his residence in Mowbray for linguistic and cultural research.

Also interesting is the shortlist list under the Translators Literary award consisting of William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali, Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873 – 1888), DLP.Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems and The Thirstland Trek: 1874 – 1881. While the Creative Non- Fiction Award has The Keeper Of The Kumm: Ancestral Longing And Belonging Of A Boesmankind, by Sylvia Vollenhoven, My Own Liberator by Judge Dikgang Moseneke and Emily Hobhouse – Geliefde Verraaier by Elsabé Brits.

The shortlist goes on to list under the Lifetime Achievement Literary Award, South Africa’s legendary Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa, who is largely respected for his predictions of world events, including the destruction of New York’s World Trade Centre in 2001, the 1976 June 16 Uprising, HIV, Chris Hani’s assassination, load shedding and the ousting of President Thabo Mbeki. Mutwa shares the category with other literary stalwarts, Aletta Matshedisð Motimele, who is revered for her Sepedi works and Etienne van Heerden, an academic and prolific Afrikaans author.

“Indeed, as its main aim, SALA continues to strive to become the most prestigious and respected literary accolades in South African literature,” says Ms Sindiswa Seakhoa, director at wRite associates, founders of SALA, in partnership with the department of Arts and Culture in 2005.

Since its inception in 2005, to date, SALA has honoured 160 authors in 11 categories in all official South African languages. SALA also boasts legacy programmes including:
- The National Poet Laureate Programme and the Keorapetse Kgositsile Lecture, in honour of the Poet Laureate, Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile.
- The Miriam Tlali Reading and Book Club, in honour of the late Miriam Tlali.
- Band of Troubadours, a publication comprising the work of the SALA recipients
- Africa Century International African Writers Conference and International African
Writers Day Lecture, established in 2012.

The conference is set to become a Mecca of who is who of the African literati, the Diaspora and the entire globe where the celebration of African letters occupies centre stage.

This historical gathering of literary intellectuals and authors from across the world, is, as the then-OAU’s Conference of African Ministers of Education and Culture (meeting in Coutonou, Benin, in 1991) resolved, “… to afford the African people a moment of pause within which to reflect on the contribution of African Writers to the development of the Continent”.

Both the 2017 South African Literary Awards ceremony and Conference will take place on the 7th November at Kgorong Building, UNISA. This is partnership by the wRite associates, the department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, UNISA.

The theme for the conference is “The Writer as a Drum Major of Conscience, Restoration & Transformation”, with the sub-theme being “The Establishment of the South African Writers Organization”.

Prof Zodwa Motsa, a Fulbright Scholar, a Researcher, Writer and Social Engineer, who has served as Head of the Department: English Studies (UNISA) from 2006 -2011 and currently serving as the Country Director at UNISA’s Ethiopia Centre for Graduate Studies in Addis Ababa, since 2012, will deliver the sixth International African Writers Day Lecture and Prof Nhlanhla Maake, an academician, novelist, dramatist, literary critic, and language activist will deliver the response. Prof Andries Oliphant, author, poet, literary scholar and cultural policy advisor, will lead the seminar on the establishment of South Africa’s writers’ organization.

Category: First-time Published Author Award

Amy Jephta, Kristalvlakte
Moses Shimo Seletisha, Tšhutšhumakgala
Mohale Mashigo, The Yearning

Category: k.Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award

Kopano Matlwa, Period Pain
Nthikeng Mohlele, Pleasure

Category: Poetry Award

Helen Moffett, Prunings
Ronelda S Kamfer, Hammie
Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu, Iingcango Zentliziyo

Category: Creative Non- Fiction Award

Dikgang Moseneke, My Own Liberator
Elsabé Brits, Emily Hobhouse – Geliefde Verraaier
Sylvia Vollenhoven, The Keeper Of The Kumm

Category: Literary Journalism Award

Don Makatile: His oeuvre
Phakama Mbonambi: His oeuvre

Category: Literary Translators Award

Bridget Theron-Bushell The Thirstland Trek: 1874 – 1881 (Afrikaans to English)
Jeff Opland, Wandile Kuse and Pamela Maseko William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873 – 1888) (isiXhosa to English)
Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko DLP.Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems (isiXhosa to English)

Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award

Nick Mulgrew, Stations
Roela Hattingh, Kamee

Category: Posthumous Literary Award

|A!kunta: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)
!Kabbo: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)
≠Kasin: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)
Dia!kwain: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)
|Han≠kass’o: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)

Category: Lifetime Achievement Literary Award

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa: Body of work
Aletta Matshedisð Motimele: Body of work
Etienne Van Heerden: Body of work

Category: Chairperson’s Award

The recipient will be announced at the award ceremony

Book details

Kristalvlakte

 
 
 
 

The Yearning

 
 
 
 

Period Pain

 
 
 
 

Pleasure

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

Hammie

 
 
 
 

My Own Liberator

 
 
 
 

Emily Hobhouse

 
 
 
 

Keeper of the Kumm

 
 
 
 

The Thirstland Trek

 
 
 
 

William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali

 
 
 
 

DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange

 
 

Stations

 
 
 
 

Kamee

"A literary dance with science" - the Mail & Guardian reviews Christa Kuljian's Darwin's Hunch

The announcement of the Homo naledi hominid fossils by Professor Lee Berger in September 2015 at Maropeng outside Johannesburg dominated the news and headlines for months internationally. The public reaction to the find indicated a fascination in the search for human origins, and that the concept of race and human evolution are linked in many people’s minds.

Christa Kuljian traces the history of South African palaeoanthropology and genetics research in order to make sense of science and race in the quest to understand human origins. Over time, the nature of the search has shifted and changed. What are we looking for after all?

Darwin’s hunch in 1871 was that humans evolved in Africa, but very few European scientists agreed. Raymond Dart wrote in Nature in February 1925 that the Taung Child Skull supported Darwin’s theory. Dart believed he had found the “missing link” between apes and humans. Again, few scientists agreed.

Over the past century, the search for human origins has been shaped by the changing social and political context. Reflecting colonial thinking, Raymond Dart followed the practice in the US and Europe of collecting human remains and characterising human skeletons into racial types. He thought that there was a Bushman racial type that might provide a clue to human evolution. In 1936, he led a Wits University expedition to the Kalahari to study this imaginary racial type. One of the people he met and measured was a young woman named /Keri-/Keri. She died two years later. Her body was embalmed and taken to Wits University where her skeleton became part of the Raymond Dart Skeleton Collection. The book uncovers the sad story of what happened to her remains. In addition to /Keri-/Keri, Kuljian introduces us to a range of people who were in the shadows of the well-known scientists.

The book shows how Prime Minister Jan Smuts supported the search for human origins in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, how the concept of human evolution was opposed by the apartheid government, and how the post-1994 South African government and President Thabo Mbeki, with encouragement from Phillip Tobias, celebrated the fact that Africa is the Cradle of Humankind. Yet the search continues. In 1987, the publication of ‘Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution’ suggested that all living humans could trace their ancestry back to Africa 200,000 years ago. Many scientists and the general public in the West were slow to accept such a claim. Genetic research continues today, based not on fossils or skeletons, but on DNA samples. Kuljian examines current thinking and approaches to the ongoing search and explains why for much of the past century so many scientists were reluctant to accept Darwin’s Hunch.

Nigel Willis, a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal, recently reviewed Kuljian’s Alan Paton Award 2017 shortlisted book for the Mail & Guardian:

Charles Darwin speculated that the origins of modern human beings may be traced to Africa. It took more than a century of hard research, exploration and scientific endeavour for his hunch to be vindicated.

Written in a gripping account that reads like a detective novel, Christa Kuljian provides a history of this validation of Darwin’s “hunch”. Kuljian is a writing fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research. She took her first degree in the history of science at Harvard University, where prominent among her tutors was the world-renowned paleontologist, Stephen Jay Gould.

In addition to a master’s degree at Princeton, she has another from the University of the Witwatersrand in creative writing. Her superb academic training illuminates this book.

Kuljian deals insightfully with the interrelationship between politics and science, especially the science of paleontology. Politics and its kindred spirit, ideology, influenced not only the prevailing assumptions about human origins but also the ability of paleontologists to raise funds to enable them to undertake their research. Political support may result in direct grants from government, but also heightens general consciousness, facilitating generous donations from private foundations and other institutions.

Kuljian draws parallels and distinctions between Jan Smuts, statesman, all round academic and pre-apartheid prime minister, and post-apartheid president Thabo Mbeki. The intellectual curiosity of both was stimulated by the prospect that the origins of modern human beings may have begun in South Africa. Both thought that research in this regard would help to “put South Africa on the map”. Mbeki thought that it would give black South Africans a sense of self-pride. To this idea Smuts was impervious.

Under apartheid, the Nationalist government was indifferent, if not hostile, to the idea that “the cradle of humankind” may lie in South Africa. It was afraid of the effect science may have on the ideology of “difference” between and, correspondingly, the inherent “separateness” of races.

Apartheid prime minister and also an academic, Hendrik Verwoerd was afraid that science may implode his theory that, as the first white person came ashore at the Cape, the first black person crossed the Limpopo. In Verwoerdian ideology, South Africa, apart from a few politically irrelevant San and Khoi-Khoi, was a wilderness, awaiting possession by white people. Thus reasoned, there had been no colonial displacement of blacks.

Continue reading Judge Willis’s review here.
 

Darwin's Hunch

Book details

Historic sale of the huge Thorold's Bookshop collection

An interior shot of Thorold’s Bookshop. © Madelene Cronjé

 
Frank R. Thorold established Thorold’s Bookshop in downtown Johannesburg in 1904. It was originally a sewing shop with some books but became the oldest and most renowned bookshop in the city over the course of the 20th Century. Robyn Fryde bought the bookshop in 1962 and continued to grow the reputation of this excellent Africana, legal and general bookshop. Upon Fryde’s passing Neillen van Kraayenburg acquired, and moved, the in excess of 150 000 books to purpose made buildings on his property in Kya Sands in Randburg. (See a recent Mail & Guardian article on Thorold’s.)

Sadly, Neillen passed away two years ago. Now the entire collection of more than 30 000 general books is going on sale at Thorold’s under the auspices of Bookdealers, at ridiculously reduced prices starting at R20. The sale will held be on Friday 27, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 from 9am to 5pm. Extra discounts on purchases of more than 10 books will be given on Saturday (10%) and Sunday (25%). A gourmet food truck will be on site offering meat and vegetarian options. Highlights include:

* AFRICANA
* FICTION
* HISTORY
* NATURE
* JOHANNESBURG
* LITERATURE
* PHILOSOPHY
* TRAVEL
* BUSINESS
* PSYCHOLOGY
* THE ARTS
* SCIENCE
* FOOD
* THE WARS
* HUMOUR
* HOBBIES
* REFERENCE
* CHILDREN’S BOOKS… and every other subject under the African Sun… ***

Thorold’s Bookshop
Cnr Orleans and Homestead Roads, Kya Sands, Randburg

Link to Google map: http://bit.ly/2wJIxRr

Directions: Turn off the N1 at Malibongwe. Proceed along Malibongwe towards Olivedale and Northgate. Cross over President Fouche. Cross over Bellairs/Olievenhout Ave. Cross over Northumberland/Witkoppen road. Turn right into River road. Turn left into Bernie St which becomes Homestead road. Look out for Thorold’s on the right on the corner of Orleans road.

For more information contact:
Chris: 083 463 3989, chris@theafricanmoonpress.co.za
Doron: 082 452 1441 or Merwelene: 082 414 9829

The Single Story Foundation Journal is launched

The editors of TSSF Journal are excited to announce the launch of its inaugural issue. Our journal is an online journal. You can read individual published pieces on our newly designed website: http://journal.singlestory.org. And, you can also read and download the entire journal too at http://journal.singlestory.org/issues/.

“The TSSF Journal is one of the new publications offering opportunities to accommodate the exploding literary culture that is sweeping the African landscape and diaspora,” Tiah Beautement, managing editor of TSSF Journal said. “We hope you enjoy the results of our team’s endeavor. ”

Our contributors include writers from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Somali and Britain, and Cameroon. They are Lauri Kubuitsile, Athol Williams, Efe Ogufere, Timi Odueso, Ahmad Holderness, O.J. Nwankwo, Taiye Ojo, Torinmo Salau, Fahima Hersi, Rešoketšwe Manenzhe, Helen Nde, Ané Breytenbach, Muwanwu Sikhitha, Ifeanyichukwu Eze, C.J. Nelson, and Carey Baraka.

We have gotten a lot of rave reviews about the aesthetic of our journal and we recommend you read the journal in its ready for print form.

About this issue: Wale Owoade, founder and publisher of EXPOUND Magazine said, “The design is stunning. TSSF Journal guys have done a great job and the cover is mind blowing.”

Tiah Beautement, Genna Gardini, and Tolu Daniel edited this issue. The TSSF Journal will be open for submissions for its second issue on January 2, 2018. For further information, please contact Tiah Beautement at journal@singlestory.org.