Press release: Winners of the 2019 Sunday Times Literary Awards announced

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The Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists for the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, have been announced. The Sunday Times Literary Awards are considered the most prestigious literary accolade in South Africa.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Alan Paton Award which has, over the decades, showcased the most acute and incisive non-fiction writing in South Africa. The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, now in its 19th year, honours the authors who enthral with their imagined worlds. The winners will each receive R100 000.

The Alan Paton Award for non-fiction

The Alan Paton Award continues to recognise exceptional non-fiction writing that presents “the 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.”

The shortlist was decided by a panel chaired by award-winning writer, journalist and filmmaker, Sylvia Vollenhoven, alongside journalist Paddi Clay, and Professor Tinyiko Maluleke from the Centre of Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria.

“The Alan Paton 2019 shortlist is a collection of powerful moments recorded with rigour and beauty,” says Vollenhoven.

The shortlist finalists for the 2019 Alan Paton Award are:

  • Heist!: South Africa’s Cash-In-transit Epidemic Uncovered -  Anneliese Burgess (Penguin Non-fiction) 
  • These Bones Will Rise Again - Panashe Chigumadzi (Jacana Media)
  • Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation: The Politics Behind #mustfall Movements - Rekgotsofetse Chikane (Picador)
  • Everyone is Present: Essays on Photography, Family and Memory - Terry Kurgan (Fourthwall Books)
  • Imprisoned: The Experience of a Prisoner Under Apartheid - Sylvia Neame (Jacana Media)

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

The criteria for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize states that the winner should be a novel of rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction.

Writer and book critic Ken Barris chaired the panel which included journalist Nancy Richards, and writer Wamuwi Mbao, in deciding this year’s shortlist finalists.

Barris says: “The five books shortlisted for the 2019 Barry Ronge Prize are not only extraordinarily good, they show diverse strengths.”

The shortlist finalists for the 2019 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize are:

  • The Boy Who Could Keep a Swan in His Head - John Hunt (Umuzi)
  • The Ones with Purpose - Cynthia Nozizwe Jele (Kwela Books)
  • The Theory of Flight - Siphiwe Ndlovu (Penguin Fiction)
  • Under Glass - Claire Robertson (Umuzi)
  • Theo & Flora - Mark Winkler (Umuzi)
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