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All the 2016 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award shortlistees

2016 Alan Paton Award shortlist
Alan Paton Award


The winners of the Sunday Times Literary Awards will be announced on Saturday, 25 June, 2016.

The Alan Paton Award will be bestowed upon a book that presents an “illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”.

Who do you want to take the award? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below!

The 2016 Alan Paton Award shortlist finalists are:

JM Coetzee and the Life of WritingPapwaTo Quote MyselfRapeShowdown at the Red Lion

Click here for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist

Read interviews with all the shortlistees:

2016 Media24 Books Literary Awards winners announced

2016 Media24 Books Literary Awards winners announced

Alert! Finuala Dowling, Ingrid Winterbach and Milton Shain were among the winners of the 2016 Media24 Books Literary Awards.

The awards recognise the best work published by Media24 Books – including NB Publishers and Jonathan Ball – during the previous year. More than 50 books published by Media24 during 2015 were entered for the awards, which offered prize money totalling more than R200,000.

The Fetch
The 2016 Herman Charles Bosman prize for English fiction went to Finuala Dowling for her novel The Fetch, published by Kwela. In their commendation, the judges lauded Dowling for “the strength of the writing, the subtlety and wit of the language, her descriptive powers and her skill at creating credible characters that are of real interest to us: complex, human, and quirky”.


A Perfect Storm
Milton Shain received the Recht Malan prize for nonfiction for A Perfect Storm: Antisemitism in South Africa 1930-1948, published by Jonathan Ball and described by the judges as history at its most compulsively readable. “In a time when violent xenophobia regularly rears its ugly head across the country, the continent and the globe, this marvellous book is a timely reminder of what can happen when politicians in pursuit of power demonise a vulnerable group,” the judges said.


The winner of the WA Hofmeyr prize for Afrikaans fiction is Ingrid Winterbach for her novel Vlakwater, published by Human & Rousseau. It is the fourth time Winterbach received this prestigious award. The novel, which is currently being translated into English, broadens an already impressive oeuvre, the judges said.


The Elisabeth Eybers prize for English or Afrikaans poetry went to Free State poet Gilbert Gibson for his fifth collection of poetry, Vry- (Human & Rousseau).


Elton Amper-Famous April en Juffrou Brom
The MER Prize for youth novels went to Carin Krahtz for Elton amper famous April en juffrou Brom (Tafelberg).


Die Dingesfabriek: Jannus en Kriek en die tydmasjien
The MER prize for illustrated children’s books went to Elizabeth Wasserman and illustrator Astrid Castle for Die Dingesfabriek 4: Jannus en Kriek en die tydmasjien (Tafelberg).


The judges were:

Herman Charles Bosman Prize: Johan Jacobs, Molly Brown and Ann Donald

The Recht Malan Prize: John Maytham, Elsa van Huyssteen and Max du Preez

The WA Hofmeyr Prize: Thys Human, Danie Marais and Bernard Odendaal

Elisabeth Eybers Prize: Henning Pieterse, Antjie Krog and Francois Smith

MER Prize for youth novels: Louise Steyn, Verushka Louw and Wendy Maartens

MER prize for illustrated children’s books: Lona Gericke, Paddy Bouma and Magdel Vorster.

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Brazilian edition of Futhi Ntshingila's Do Not Go Gentle published

Sem GentilezaThis week sees the publication of Futhi Ntshingila’s second novel, Do Not Go Gentle, into Portuguese. Brazilian publishers, Dublinense have translated the novel into Portuguese and now it is out.

Both Gustavo Faraon and I were participants in the 2012 Frankfurt Invitation Programme, which is where we met and when we met to look at each other’s catalogues the following year, the seeds of this translation project were sown. Here is the English translation from google translate of the press release put out by Dublinense on June 22nd, 2016.

“This is not just any book.
Without kindness (Direct Translation of Sem Gentileza – the Portuguese title) was written by Futhi Ntshingila. She’s a South African. She’s Zulu.

Although so rich in features – and here counted with the paints only a culture that is not our own, from an imaginary one so different and in a way so own -, stories very similar to this sprout for all corners of the world. Are stories of women who have not been given a choice not to be resist and try, like her, preserve her own integrity.
Women that need to be strong – only because they are women.

The journey that led to the publication of this book began, in fact, to meet the publisher modjaji books, from Cape Town, and his incredible publisher militant Colleen Higgs. The Publisher, baptized in tribute to the goddess of the rain, there is to give space to the South African women, whose voices vibrant remained relegated to the sidelines and in the shade since forever.

This editorial project was really inspiring to us. And it seemed clear that it was necessary to bring the books that Colleen edited for an even bigger audience, to Brazil, for you. We were reading and analyzing various titles, and it was clear that the stories could be unique, but together they reflected an issue that is not limited to a specific region or culture. And so we come to this novel which we believe to be very representative.

Our Brazilian edition in Portuguese of without kindness is the first in a foreign language. The own author now is dedicated to translate it to isizulu.
That is why, for us, this is not just any book. It points to something that we want to pursue.

That this book find many readers and readers in Brazil, and that this will allow us to continue bringing many other stories that help to give a voice to those who do not have.”

Gustavo Faraon of Dublinense at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2015

Gustavo Faraon of Dublinense at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2015

We hope that Futhi will be invited to a literary festival and will be able to go to Brazil later this year to meet her new audience.

As the press release says, Modjaji is looking to bring out an isiZulu edition of Do Not Go Gentle in 2017. Futhi is doing the translation herself. Watch this space!

Do Not Go Gentle

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Kopano Matlwa's new novel revealed!

Kopano Matlwa's new novel revealed!
Spilt MilkCoconut

Alert! Jacana Media has revealed the cover and title for Kopano Matlwa’s new novel.

Matlwa took the South African literary world by storm when in 2007, at just 21, she won the European Literary Award and the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature for her debut novel Coconut.

This title, an “instant classic”, went on to sell over 20,000 copies in South Africa alone.

“It has become part of our zeitgeist, testament to the realities, which she wrote about so movingly, the heartbreak of being a ‘coconut’ in a world of rapid flux,” Jacana says in a statement.

Coconut catapulted Matlwa onto the international stage with translations in French, Swedish, Italian and Dutch. Spilt Milk followed in 2010, an allegory of love lost between black and white South Africa. Dealing with relationships and histories, things unsaid and things undone, it too was published to great acclaim.”

And now, Jacana Media brings you Matlwa’s “most distinguished work” – Period Pain! Books LIVE editor Jennifer Malec got the scoop:

Professor Craig Mackenzie, Chair of the University of Johannesburg English Department, recommended the manuscript for publication with the following words:

Period Pain‘s greatest strength is that is is utterly compelling. The construction of the character is entirely convincing, and draws the reader in from the very start. By turns morbid, ironic, funny, irreverent and angry, Masechaba is someone we care about, and her experiences and perceptions are acute and engaging. Her narrative provides vivid insights into contemporary South Africa – from its under-resourced state hospitals, corruption and graft, to its racial tensions and prejudices against foreigners. We are thus given a no-holds-barred account of life in 21-century South Africa, and while it is not an attractive portrait is certainly is one that is accurate and engaging.

Be prepared for outrage, be prepared for mood swings, but most of all be prepared to have Masechaba get under your skin and into your heart!

Related stories:

Image: 21 Icons

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Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist: Alastair Bruce talks about the genesis of Boy on the Wire

Published in the Sunday Times

Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist: Alastair Bruce talks about the genesis of Boy on the Wire


Boy on the WireBoy on the Wire
Alastair Bruce (Umuzi)

The idea surfaced soon after I had finished Wall of Days. That novel examined how a nation could reimagine and reinvent a past it might not want. I found myself wondering how a person would cope, trying to make sense out of a traumatic event in childhood: how his recollection of events could change over time and, unfettered by outside influence, how a truth could grow out of a lie or at least, the lie of omission.

Having recently had a child, and with another born during the writing of this book, I was also remembering my own childhood. The house in the story is described from my memory of the house I grew up in. It was a magical space in many ways: a big house, a big garden outside the city with bush or scrubland at the back. But also, and here I suppose it might be a metaphor for South Africa in that period, it was a space isolated from the rest of the world, a space where unspeakable events took place perhaps partly because of that isolation.

The plot is unrecognisable from my first draft. What drove the novel was my desire to tell a story about a person, torn apart by guilt, but where that guilt may well be the ultimate measure of his own humanity.


I draw the bolt back. I can hear only my own breathing now. The voice has not come back. My breathing is quick. I push the door open. The room is dark, blacker than I remember.

“Hello?” My voice sounds strange, unreal. I think for a moment it has come not from me but from the blackness in the corners of the space that I cannot see. I wait for my eyes to adjust. There is no answer. A slight echo perhaps. I step towards the door and freeze. The song again, but from outside this time. I run to the window which looks out to the side of the property. I cannot see anything at first, but I open the window and stick my head out. Peering round towards the back of the house, I see something then. There, standing in the middle of the lawn, a boy. He is looking away from the house, towards the bush. He is too far away to see clearly and the window is at the wrong angle. I have to lean far out of the window and strain my neck to see him. The boy stands there. He is too far away to have made that noise, but I know it comes from him. Though it seems to start in my head, I know it is from that boy. I know the tune, though I cannot place it. The boy is still, his back to me.

I feel myself grow cold. I remember the open door behind me. I picture something emerging from it. Something dark, emerging into the light of the room, tiptoeing up to me crouched at the window.

Not just something. Peter. A sight more terrifying than anything I could imagine.

I turn. There is nothing. Still the cold.

I look out of the window again. The boy is gone. But then I look down and there he is, standing at the side of the house, pressed against the bricks. I pulled my head inside for less than a second. Or was it longer? It might have been longer. Have I been standing here for minutes, lost in a dream, before waking again?

I watch the boy and slowly he turns his head, turns towards me and looks up and meets my gaze. His eyes are black. The blackest things I have seen. The sun, perhaps, is in my eyes, and has burnt a patch in my vision so when I look at this child I see only blackness.

I pull my head inside and lean against the wall. It is cold in here. I edge along the wall, my face to it, so I cannot see behind me. I do not want to look.

The boy’s face. The face from the photograph.

I can still hear the nursery rhyme. Fly away, Peter.

Once out of the room, I run down the stairs and through the front door and round the corner of the house where I saw the boy, but he has gone. I circle the house and turn around and search the other way but it is all light here, no shadows, and I cannot see him.

The front door has closed behind me. I drop the keys as I take them out of my pocket, and when I bend down to pick them up, I see him again. Right next to me. I can see his feet, his calves, his knees. Just that. If I move quickly, lunge at him, I could catch him. I do not move. The legs do not move either. On his right knee there is a cut. It is healing, but it is deep. When it was cut, I could see bone.

He is barefoot. I stay bent to the ground, next to him, my skin tingling, expecting a touch. The boy’s feet have the brown skin of a child who spends all day in the sun. The nails are bitten. He moves a toe. No, he is trembling. He cannot help it. He is afraid. Scared to death – of what I do not know. It is I who should be fearful. I dare not look at him, dare not move at all.

Related stories:

Book details

Alan Paton Award shortlist: Maxine Case talks about the importance of the story of Papwa: Golf's Lost Legend

Published in the Sunday Times

Alan Paton Award shortlist: Maxine Case talks about the importance of the story of Papwa: Golf’s Lost Legend

PapwaPapwa: Golf’s Lost Legend
Maxine Case (Kwela)

Briefly outline Papwa Sewgolum’s life.

The reductive facts – illiterate caddie, champion of the black golfing circuit, three-time winner of the Dutch Open, Indian golfer who beat Gary Player several times, 1965 Natal Open champion forced to receive his prize in the rain – are also the facts I attempted to rise above. If Papwa is remembered at all, it is for one of these things. I wanted to show him as a nuanced character and contextualise him in his world.

His story has been told before. What new insights do you bring to it?

When writing and researching this book, I found myself constantly wanting to correct published inaccuracies around Papwa’s life. It bugged me if a reported score was a stroke out in one source, when three other sources had it as something else. More seriously, a previously published work has Papwa dying in a shebeen. While this is dramatic and makes for a good cautionary tale, I felt that the true, unplumbed details of his life were dramatic enough without need for embellishment. I like to think that I bring a woman’s perspective to a story that in some parts is seen as belonging to the domain of men – and golfers!

How did you go about the research?

I was able to interview several members of Papwa’s family and had access to more than 40 hours of video interviews and transcripts of his friends, family and fellow golfers – all of whom had their own opinions of what motivated Papwa and how he’d experienced certain pivotal events. In addition, I spent weeks going through various newspaper and magazine archives, so that much of what I wrote, or alluded to, stemmed from published interviews Papwa had given. I had a copy of Graham Wolfe’s unpublished autobiography, which detailed the intersection of his and Papwa’s lives. I also had access to an extensive library of photographs. When writing about him winning his first tournament, for example, I examined the photograph taken of an exuberant Papwa clutching his trophy and used that as a prompt.

Your debut novel, All We Have Left Unsaid, won several prizes. Were you keen to try your hand at non-fiction?

Initially, I began writing Papwa as a novel. However, the more I researched, the more convinced I became that the truth of Papwa’s life was more intriguing than any fictions manufactured around him, and so decided to write a biography instead.

Did you find the non-fiction form more difficult to write than fiction?

What was hardest was to cede my authority as a writer. In writing non-fiction, particularly in trying to re-establish the facts of a character like Papwa, who died so long ago, I had to rely on the memories, impressions and facts presented by others, as opposed to the freedom of fiction which allows me to make informed decisions regarding my character’s journey and the creative licence to make things up.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers will see that the book is about more than one man called Papwa Sewgolum. As a descendant, I wanted to tell the story of Indian South Africans. I set out to explore the effect of apartheid on an individual’s life, using Papwa as a vehicle for this, and in particular, the plight of sportspeople of colour during those years. I was interested to learn how boycotts and protests against the apartheid government’s sporting policies served as a catalyst for the dismantling of the entire system.

Transformation in sport is a contentious topic. How does your biography fit into the conversation?

It is my wish that the biography is a reminder of the great cost at which this transformation was achieved.

How has his family responded to this biography?

As far as I can tell, Papwa’s family are pleased, but you’d have to ask them. I could have taken a more salacious approach, but that was not the story I set out to write. That being said, I didn’t skirt around Papwa’s personal issues, or censor myself either.

Related stories:

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