Shortlist of the 2017 Sunday Times Literary Awards announced

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Johannesburg, 14 May 2017

The Mesh Club in Johannesburg was the venue for the shortlist announcement of the 2017 Sunday Times Literary Awards, the most prestigious literary recognition in the country. Five authors in the fiction category for the Barry Ronge Prize, and five writers in the non-fiction category for the Alan Paton Award were announced.

Jennifer Platt, Sunday Times Books Editor, says, “The shortlisted books always reflect what is happening in our society and this year it’s clear that the political has become the personal, and that we have to look at what happened to find out who and where we are today. Both shortlists have authors with strong voices and exceptional writing talent.”

The Alan Paton Award shortlist – non-fiction

Under Nelson Mandela Boulevard: Life Among the Stowaways
Sean Christie (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race, and the Search for Human Origins
Christa Kuljian (Jacana Media)

Murder at Small Koppie: The Real Story of the Marikana Massacre
Greg Marinovich (Penguin Books)

My Own Liberator: A Memoir
Dikgang Moseneke (Picador Africa)

Letters of Stone: From Nazi Germany to South Africa
Steven Robins (Penguin Books)

The judging panel included Justice Johann Kriegler and Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, chaired by Professor Pippa Green.

The five books on the Alan Paton shortlist span centuries of history: from wartime Berlin to the Cape Town of today, from the Cradle of Civilisation millennia ago to the Marikana Massacre of recent memory. “These are books that raise critical questions about our past, present and future,” says Green. “The big question being asked is who are we?”

“Many of the books deal with pain, but in different ways,” said one judge. “Some move quickly over it, others stop and pause.”

“There are great figures here and the marginalised, too. There is the grotesque suffering of the Holocaust as well as more personal, inward suffering of loneliness and loss of identity.”


The Barry Ronge Prize shortlist – fiction

The Printmaker
Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (Umuzi)

Period Pain
Kopano Matlwa (Jacana Media)

Little Suns
Zakes Mda (Umuzi)

The Woman Next Door
Yewande Omotoso (Chatto & Windus)

The Safest Place You Know
Mark Winkler (Umuzi)

The judging panel, consisting of Africa Melane and Kate Rogan, and chaired by Rehana Rossouw chose books they felt displayed rare imagination and style, and told fresh, provocative stories.  “The words strike at the reader’s heart,” says Rossouw. “Many of the characters live on in my mind.”

“There’s a rich range of stories here, with writers foregrounding the personal over the political. From 1903, through the 1980s and right up to present-day, these are engaging, rewarding tales.”

“The stories hold up a perceptive mirror to South Africa of today, the lingering faultlines of racism, the social ills that beset us, but there’s love and redemption, too.”

The winners of the respective awards will be announced at the Sunday Times Literary Awards being held on 24 June 2017.

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