Press release: Announcement of the winner of the Philida Literary Award in 2023

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Picture: provided

On 6 February, the eighth anniversary of André Brink’s death, we paid tribute to his life and work and announced that the Philida Literary Award, established in his memory in 2020, went to Nathan Trantraal and was awarded to him for an oeuvre of literary excellence.

Nathan Trantraal is the author of three poetry collections – Chokers en Survivors (2013), which won the 2014 AKTV Woordfees Prize and the 2015 Ingrid Jonker Prize; Alles Het Niet Kom Wôd (2017), which won a SALA award in 2019; and Oolog (2020) – as well as a volume of essays, Wit Issie ’n Colour Nie (2018). He translated Jason Reynolds's Long Way Down into Kaaps (Lang Pad Onnetoe). He writes for television and theatre and has a biweekly column for Rapport called Sypaadjies.

Nathan also illustrated four graphic novels (Stormkaap, Coloureds, Crossroads and All Rise) and has worked as a cartoonist for the Cape Times (The Richenbaums), the Cape Argus (Urban Tribe) and Rapport (Ruthie). His comic art has been exhibited in Hamburg, Amsterdam and Cape Town. He currently works as an illustrator for Vrye Weekblad.

With his partner Ronelda S Kamfer, he worked on a series called “Portraits” for Vrye Weekblad about the ordinary lives of South Africans during the coronavirus pandemic. He is an editor reviewer and freelance book cover designer. His poetry has been translated into English, French and Modern Greek.

The Philida Literary Award is awarded annually to a writer mid-career for an oeuvre of between three to five books of any genre. Established in 2020 by Karina M. Brink (writing under her maiden name Szczurek) in memory of her late husband, renowned author André Brink, the award recognises a writer with a consistent record of publishing works of excellence and aims to encourage them further in their pursuit of a literary career.

The award announcement takes place annually on the anniversary of André’s death, 6 February.

The award is named after a historical figure, the slave woman Philida van de Caab, a knitting woman, who entered South Africa’s archival records because of laying an official complaint against her masters, Francois and Cornelius Brink, distant relatives of André’s. She became the protagonist of André’s last published novel, Philida (2012). André’s rendition of her courage and resilience continues to inspire readers and writers around the world.

The 2023 Philida Literary Award judges were Sally Partridge, Karina M Szczurek, Lester Walbrugh and Christy Weyer.

Each winner receives an award certificate designed by Debbie Minné and an amount of money that was first determined by the royalties earned from the sales of You Make Me Possible: The Love Letters of Karina M. Szczurek and André Brink (Protea Book House, 2018) and is now sponsored by Karavan Press. As Karina wrote in her Note on the publication of You Make Me Possible: with André’s encouragement and support, she was able to acknowledge the fact that she was a writer; he was an inspiration to many other writers and was always generous with his time and expertise in furthering the literary careers of others. The Philida Literary Award continues this legacy.

Nathan Trantraal on accepting the Philida Literary Award: “I am grateful and honoured. My thanks to all the judges.”

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