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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Listen: Nthikeng Mohlele discusses Michael K on SAfm Literature

‘Those in the know claim Michael K disembarked from a diesel-smoke-spewing truck one overcast morning, looked around, and without missing a beat, chose a spot where he set down a small bucket (red, burnt and disfigured) that contained an assortment of seedlings, some fisherman’s twine and a rudimentary gardening tool – probably self-made.’

How is it that a character from literary fiction can so alter the landscapes he touches, even as he – in his self-imposed isolation – seeks to avoid them? How is it that Michael K, bewildered and bewildering, can remain so fragile yet so present, so imposing without attempting to be so?

In this response to JM Coetzee’s classic masterpiece, Life & Times of Michael K, Nthikeng Mohlele dabbles in the artistic and speculative in a unique attempt to unpack the dazed and disconnected world of the title character, his solitary ways, his inventiveness, but also to show how astutely Michael K holds up a mirror to those whose paths he inadvertently crosses. Michael K explores the weight of history and of conscience, thus wrestling the character from the confines of literary creation to the frontiers of artistic timelessness.

Mohlele was a recent guest on Nancy Richards’s SAfm Literature Show. Listen to their conversation here:


 

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Marcus Low’s Asylum shortlisted for the 2018 9mobile Prize for Literature


 
The 9mobile Prize for Literature recently announced their 2018 shortlist and local author Marcus Low’s remarkable debut novel, Asylum made the cut!

Previously known as the Etisalat Prize for Literature, the 9mobile Prize is the first ever pan-African prize celebrating first time writers of published fiction books.

The prize aims to serve as a platform for the discovery of new creative talent out of the continent and invariably promote the burgeoning publishing industry in Africa.
 

About Asylum:

 
Barry James is detained in a quarantine facility in the blistering heat of the Great Karoo.

Here he exists in two worlds: the discordant and unforgiving reality of his incarceration and the lyrical, snowy landscapes of his dreams.

He has cut all ties with his previous life, his health is failing, and he has given up all hope. All he has to cling to are the meanderings of his restless mind, the daily round of pills and the journals he reluctantly keeps as testimony to a life once lived.

And then there’s an opportunity to escape. But to escape what? And where to? Can there be a life to go back to? Is there still a world out there in the barren wasteland beyond the fence?

I was sitting in the train looking out at the falling snow. I knew then that I was not going home … I was going to an unknown place on a train full of unknown people.

And even though I knew I would not be coming back, that the factories that whooshed by were instantly hundreds of kilometres behind us, that the train would not deliver us anywhere where we’d want to be, I still felt grateful for the snow, the impossible snow.

For it seems to me that even in the most bleak of worlds we’ll find something to hold on to … even if that is something as impossible as snow in this god-forsaken wasteland.

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“It’s a sexy, sexy book!” – Eusebius McKaiser and Angela Makholwa discuss The Blessed Girl

When you are accustomed to the finer things in life – designer shoes, champagne, VIP lounges, exotic holidays abroad, a luxury penthouse, expensive wheels – what independent young woman in her right mind would want to let them go? Certainly not the beautiful, ambitious and super-streetsmart Bontle Tau, the girl who has used her good looks and winning charm all her life to get exactly what she wants. The lifestyle doesn’t come cheap, though, nor does maintaining the body that allows it (just ask Dr Heinz at the beauty clinic).

Luckily, Bontle has a degree in MENcology, and there is no shortage of blessers at her penthouse door, eager to give her all the love and (financial) support she needs.

Papa Jeff might be overweight and getting on a bit, and receiving some unwanted attention from the Hawks; and Teddy might not have fully come through for her on that messed-up tender business; but Mr Emmanuel, the Nigerian businessman with deep pockets and the possibility of conferring second wife status … could that be love? Keeping all her boyfriends happy and living a fabulous life is not without its challenges.

With so many people clamouring for Bontle’s attention – from her shebeen queen mother Gladys in Mamelodi, who is taking strain bringing up her teenaged brother, Golokile, on her own; to her girlfriends, Iris and Tsholo; not to mention her soon-to-be ex-husband, the ever-patient, ever-loving Ntokozo, Bontle barely has time to post on Instagram these days.

Sooner or later something’s got to give …

Angela recently was a guest on Eusebius McKaiser’s 702 Literature Corner show. Listen to the juicy conversation:

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David France wins the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction for How to Survive a Plague

David France has been awarded the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction! The announcement was made on the evening of 16 November.

As per the press release, composed by Picador publisher Ravi Mirchandani:

I am delighted to share the news, to those of you who don’t yet know, that last night our author David France won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction (formerly the Samuel Johnson Prize).

The prize is the UK’s leading award for non-fiction, but it is open to books published in the UK by writers from all over the world, including in translation.

David’s book tells the story of AIDS from the first cases in the US in the late 70s to the emergence of the combination drug therapies that mean that an HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence in the 90s. It is in part his own story, as a gay man in New York at the time and as a journalist who covered AIDS, at a time when the mainstream press very largely did not, but it is also a significant work of history.

Thanks to the fact that the virus very disproportionately targeted members of stigmatised groups – gay men, heroin addicts and Haitian immigrants – the American establishment, from President Reagan to the pharmaceutical industry, the medical authorities, the churches and the media, for years turned a blind eye to the increasing number of deaths, usually terrible, drawn-out and agonizingly painful deaths, and to the health crisis that was emerging in plain sight.

Thanks to this willful neglect, 40 million people around the world have died. Many of them need not have.

But the book is also the story of how groups of HIV-positive people across America and the world, many of them literally fighting for their lives, fought one of the most effective protest campaigns in history. And how they eventually won.

Thanks to these activists and to a crucial group of scientists and drug developers, many millions have not died and are ‘living with HIV’, thanks to the combination therapies.Their achievement has changed not only HIV, but also the ways in which medical research is done and made a major contribution to the emergence of the ‘patients’ rights’ movement.

For all these reasons the book is an important one; it is also hugely readable, not only at times almost unbearably moving, but also gripping and inspiring, a story of heroism and victory as well as of sadness and bereavement.

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Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime awarded Thurber Prize for American Humour

Born A CrimeTrevor Noah was announced as the winner of the 2017 Thurber Prize for American Humour for his memoir Born a Crime on the 2nd of October at a ceremony at Carolines on Broadway in New York City.

The Thurber Prize is the only award which gives recognition to the art of humour writing in America. Noah received $5 000, a commemorative plaque, and is invited to Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio as a featured guest at a special event.

The runner-ups were novelists Ken Pisani’s (author of Amp’d, and Aaron Their – nominated for Mr. Eternity).

Trevor Noah’s path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show in New York began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of his relationship with his fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother – his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic and deeply affecting. Whether being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping or simply trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his world with an incisive wit and an unflinching honesty.

‘As much as Born a Crime is about Trevor, you can’t help but see yourself in the stories he tells. In many ways, he is all of us. When Trevor writes about his mother, I felt like he was writing about mine. He was born in the tragedy and comedy that was apartheid South Africa and he recounts his experiences with compassion and humour. He validates my view: although we all seem ordinary, we all have extraordinary stories to tell – and to live.’
– KHAYA DLANGA

Born a Crime strikes a perfect balance of humour and seriousness. It is wild and calming; it makes you want to sit and reflect silently, and also pick up the phone to question loved ones. It is both Xhosa and Swiss – the two forces that created this crime. Bravo Trevor! This book gave me all the answers about you to questions I never knew I had.’
– ANELE MDODA

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University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Writing in English 2016 winners announced

 

The University of Johannesburg is pleased to announce the winners of its annual literary award:

The main prize of R75 000 is awarded to Nthikeng Mohlele for Pleasure (Picador Africa).

The debut prize of R35 000 is awarded to Mohale Mashigo for The Yearning (Picador Africa).

A formal prize-giving ceremony will be held later in the year.

Publishers who wish to submit entries for the UJ prize for works published in 2017 should contact Prof Ronit Frenkel (ronitf@uj.ac.za).

Background information

The prizes are not linked to a specific genre. This may make the evaluation more challenging in the sense that, for example, a volume of poetry, a novel and a biographical work must be measured against one another, but the idea is to open the prize to as many forms of creative writing as possible.

Approximately 60 works were submitted this year, from which the following books were selected for the shortlist:

Main Prize:
Pleasure by Nthikeng Mohlele
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Sigh the Beloved Country by Bongani Madondo

Debut Prize:
The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
Loud and Yellow Laughter by Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese
Tjieng-Tjang and Other Stories by Jolyn Philips
The Keeper of the Kumm by Sylvia Vollenhoven

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Achmat Dangor “Perversely” Thanks the Apartheid Government for His SALA Lifetime Achievement Award

Strange PilgrimagesThis month, the 2015 South African Literary Awards will present Achmat Dangor with a Lifetime Achievement Literary Award.

The legendary activist, whose most recent book is Strange Pilgrimages, spoke to Morning Live presenter Samm Marshall about his literary life and what being nominated for the SALAs means to him.

Reflecting on where it all started, Dangor said the apartheid banning order that prohibited him from publishing any books or preparing any manuscripts for publication gave him the time to focus on writing.

“In many ways, perversely almost, I need to thank the South African government, the old apartheid government,” he says. “In 1973, I was part of the Black Consciousness Movement, the student movement, and I was banned for five years.

“But my spare time I devoted to my writing because I had nothing else to do.

“Every time I wrote a manuscript, in those days yes it was pen to paper, I’d even hide it. I had manuscripts in my ceiling, in friends’ ceilings, in the garden.”

Dangor was also part of a literary group called Black Thoughts that went around to schools reading banned literature to students.

Watch the video:

YouTube Preview Image

 
The SALA ceremony will be held at the Tshwane Events Centre on 7 November, 2015:

 

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Twitter Fundi Barry Bateman Named One of the Top 40 Influential Media Makers in South Africa

Behind the DoorBarry Bateman has been named one of the top 40 most influential young people in the media today.

The Eyewitness News senior journalist and co-author of Behind the Door: The Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp Story with Mandy Wiener has been hailed as a “next-generation reporter” for his swift Twitter skills and ability to break and broadcast news to his 250 000 Twitter followers.

“Barry Bateman is South Africa’s top tweeter,” said City Press editor Ferial Haffajee.

The top 40 under 40s in the media for 2015 were selected by media experts and industry leaders across a spectrum of publications in both the traditional and digital media sphere. Other people on the list include Gareth Cliff, Anele Mdoda and Monde Twala.

Read the article:

BARRY BATEMAN Correspondent for Eyewitness News (EWN). Age: 35

“Barry Bateman is South Africa’s top tweeter, who has made his mark as a top Twitter reporter and an excellent radio man,” says City Press editor Ferial Haffajee.

He has proven himself as a next-generation reporter, who actively engages with his nearly 250 000 Twitter followers, all while writing and broadcasting breaking news.

He became a household name in 2013 from his extensive coverage of the Oscar Pistorius trial, which led to the publication of his first book, written with fellow journalist Mandy Wiener, Behind the Door: The Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp Story.

“He’s not afraid to push himself as a journalist and try new things,” says EWN editor in chief Katy Katopodis.

UNIQUE: His first break in mainstream media came when he photographed an aircraft crash at the Wonderboom Airshow, which resulted in him getting a foot in with the Pretoria News.

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My Second Initiation by Vusi Pikoli and Mandy Wiener Shortlisted for 2014 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award

My Second InitiationPan Macmillan is delighted to announce that Vusi Pikoli’s and Mandy Wiener’s bestselling book, My Second Initiation: The Memoir of Vusi Pikoli, published under its Picador Africa imprint, has been shortlisted for the 2014 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award.

In this searingly honest account, Pikoli reveals how he grappled with the dilemma of prosecuting friends and comrades, how he navigated through repeated attempts at political interference and how he confronted his own persecutors in a poignant face-to-face encounter. He provides an insider’s perspective on cases that have dominated discussion over the past decade from the Arms Deal and the Scorpions to the Brett Kebble murder, Travelgate, the Special Browse Mole Report and the Hoax E-mail saga.

Pikoli interrogates the state of the country’s criminal justice system, reflects on what has become of his beloved ANC and considers whether the cost of his sacrifices was worth fighting for.

“I want to thank those readers who have bought My Second Initiation and who have engaged with us over the book. And I offer my congratulations to the other authors whose books have been shortlisted. In sharing my story, I hope I have highlighted issues of accountability, integrity and transparency, as well as the importance of the independence of prosecutors and of the need to uphold the values of our Constitution.” – Vusi Pikoli

“I am thrilled that My Second Initiation has been named on the shortlist for such an esteemed award. Having sacrificed so much, Advocate Pikoli deserves to have his story acknowledged and appreciated. This is such an important book about prosecutorial independence, speaking truth to power, integrity and about holding our government to account.” – Mandy Wiener

“I am delighted to see the close collaboration of Vusi Pikoli and Mandy Wiener rewarded with the shortlisting of My Second Initiation for the 2014 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. This memoir speaks very strongly to the award’s criteria, in particular of ‘truthfulness’ that flies ‘in the face of power’ and of ‘intellectual and moral integrity’. I also extend my congratulations to the other shortlisted authors, and their publishers, as it was a strong longlist to be chosen from.” – Andrea Nattrass, Publisher at Pan Macmillan South Africa

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Duncan Brown’s Are Trout South African? Takes Second Prize as the Oddest Book Title of the Year

Are Trout South African?Are Trout South African?: Stories of Fish, People and Places by Duncan Brown has come second in the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, sharing the spot with The Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews.

The winning title is How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers’ Guide to Toilet Etiquette by Mats and Enzo.

In Are Trout South African? Brown discusses notions of identity and belonging, using the history of trout in South Africa as a way of exploring these issues.

Powered by the British public’s unstoppable enthusiasm for toilet humour, the enticingly-titled How to Poo on a Date has carried off this year’s Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year.

With previous winners of the award including How to Shit in the Woods, American Bottom Archaeology and Cooking with Poo – which innocently drew its name from author Saiyuud Diwong’s nickname, “Poo”, Thai for crab – the prize is beginning to show a dangerous trend. “Diagram devotees have spoken, and spoken in no uncertain terms: poo wins prizes,” said prize administrator Tom Tivnan, also highlighting the shortlisted title The Origin of Feces, which came in a narrow second to How to Poo on a Date in this year’s public vote.

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