2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards Longlist

Announcing the longlists for SA’s most prestigious annual literary awards for non-fiction and fiction in partnership with Exclusive Books. Here are the picks of SA's literature published between December 2021 and December 2022.

16 July 2023 - 00:02
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in partnership with Exclusive Books.
Announcing the 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards Longlist in partnership with Exclusive Books.
Image: Joseph Lion


This is the 22nd year of the Sunday Times fiction prize. The criteria stipulate that the winning novel should be one of “rare imagination and style ... a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction”.


Ekow Duker — Chair

Oil field engineer turned banker turned writer, Duker grew up in Ghana, studied in the United Kingdom, the US and France and now lives and works in Joburg. His debut novels, White Wahala and Dying in New York, were published in 2014 and were followed in 2016 by The God Who Made Mistakes, and in 2019 by his fourth and most ambitious novel, Yellowbone.

Kevin Ritchie

Ritchie spent 27 years at what is today Independent Media, including editing the company’s smallest daily newspaper; the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley, and its flagship; The Star, in Joburg. He received several journalism awards during his career and wrote the two volume Reporting the Courts — A Handbook for South African Journalists. He also co-authored The A-Z of South African Politics (Jacana 2019). After leaving journalism in 2018, Ritchie founded a media consultancy. He writes a syndicated weekly opinion column in the Saturday Star. 

Professor Nomboniso Gasa

Writer and political analyst Gasa is a research fellow at the Centre for Law and Society and Adjunct Professor at School of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. In the early 1990s, Gasa was part of the ANC’s Commission for the Women’s Emancipation of Women. Gasa has been published widely in newspapers and academic journals, including Women in South African History (HSRC) which she edited in 2007. She has sat in several public positions, including the Commission for Gender Equality, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Development Bank of Southern Africa. Gasa has a long history in politics, feminism and women’s rights activism extending to her teenage years which saw her arrested several times by the apartheid government.

in partnership with Exclusive Books.
2023 Sunday Times Literary Award in partnership with Exclusive Books.
Image: Supplied
Chairing the fiction judging.
Ekow Duker Chairing the fiction judging.
Image: Supplied

Here is the fiction longlist in order of the author’s surname

  • In The Shadow of the Springs I Saw by Barbara Adair (Modjaji Books)
  • The Heist Men by Andrew Brown (Penguin Fiction)
  • How to be a Revolutionary by CA Davids (Umuzi)
  • Stirring the Pot by Quraisha Dawood (Penguin Fiction)
  • The Man Who Loved Crocodile Tamers by Finuala Dowling (Kwela) 
  • The Dao of Daniel by Lodewyk G du Plessis and translated by Michiel Heyns (Tafelberg)
  • Chasing Marian by Amy Heydenrych, Qarnita Loxton, Pamela Power and Gail Schmillel (Pan Macmillan)
  • Peaches and Smeets by Ashti Juggath (Modjaji Books)
  • Two Tons o’ Fun by Fred Khumalo (Umuzi)
  • Notes on Falling by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (Umuzi)
  • It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way by Alistair Mackay (Kwela)
  • The Daughters of Nandi by Nokuthula Mazibuko Msimang (Paivapo)
  • The Second Verse by Onke Mazibuko (Penguin Fiction)
  • Things My Mother Left Me by Pulane Mlilo Mpondo (Blackbird Books)
  • Across the Kala Pani by Shevlyn Mottai (Penguin Fiction)
  • The Quality of Mercy by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (Penguin Fiction)
  • Hammerman: A Walking Shadow by Mike Nicol (Umuzi)
  • An Angel’s Demise by Sue Nyathi (Pan Macmillan)
  • An Unusual Grief by Yewanda Omotoso (Jonathan Ball Publishers/Cassava Republic Press)
  • The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
  • In The Midst of it All by Thabile Shange (Kwela)
  • A Dalliance with Destiny by Aman Singh Maharaj (Austin Macauley Fiction)
  • A Library to Flee by Etienne van Heerden and translated by Henrietta Rose-Innes (Tafelberg)
  • Red Tide by Irma Venter and translated by Karin Schimke (Tafelberg)
  • Elton Baatjies by Lester Walbrugh (Karavan Press)
  • The Other Me by Joy Watson (Karavan Press)
  • The Errors of Dr Browne by Mark Winkler (Umuzi)
Chairing the non-fiction judging.
Duma Gqubule Chairing the non-fiction judging.
Image: Supplied


This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the non-fiction. The award will be bestowed on a book 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”.


Duma Gqubule — Chair

Gqubule has spent more than two decades as a financial journalist, analyst, researcher and advisor on issues of economic development and transformation. His work was recognised and he later worked for the Black Economic Empowerment Commission, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa. He was co-author of the commission’s report, which paved the way for the country’s current Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) laws and policies. He was editor of the book Making Mistakes, Righting Wrongs: Insights into Black Economic Empowerment. A heterodox economist, he is a Business Day columnist, public speaker and commentator on issues related to economic development and transformation.

Judy Dlamini

Dlamini is the founder and executive chairman of the Mbekani Group, which has been in business for 27 years. She’s Wits University Chancellor, founder and CEO of Sifiso Publishers and Equal but Different, a non-executive director of SA SME Fund, an initiative between government and the private sector to create jobs and grow an inclusive economy. Dlamini also chairs the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre board.

Julian Rademeyer 

Rademeyer is director of the Organised Crime Observatory for East and Southern Africa at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime. Previously, he was a project leader at TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring network and editor of the fact-checking website, Africa Check. A former investigative journalist, his best-selling book, Killing for Profit — Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade, was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Literary Award for non-fiction.

Here is the non-fiction longlist in order of the author’s surname

  • Clare: The Killing of a Gentle Activist by Christopher Clark (Tafelberg)
  • The Price of Mercy: A Fight for the Right to Die with Dignity by Sean Davison (Melinda Ferguson Books)
  • The ANC Billionaires: Big Capital's Gambit and the Rise of the Few by Pieter du Toit (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
  • Mr Entertainment: The Life of Taliep Petersen by Paula Fourie (LAPA)
  • My Thirty-Minute Bar Mitzvah: A Memoir by Denis Hirson (Jacana Media)
  • Don’t Upset ooMalume: A Guide to Stepping Up Your Xhosa Game by Hombakazi Mercy Nqandeka (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
  • Too White to be Coloured, Too Coloured to be Black: On the Search for Home and Meaning by Ismail Lagardien (Melinda Ferguson Books)
  • A Desire To Return To The Ruins by Lucas Ledwaba (Blackbird Books)
  • Boy on the Run by Welcome Mandla Lishivha (Jacana Media)
  • My Land Obsession: A Memoir by Bulelwa Mabasa (Picador Africa)
  • Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi: a Biography by Siphiwo Mahala (Wits University Press)
  • A Man, A Fire, A Corpse: The Story of Soweto’s Top Cop by Rofhiwa Maneta (Blackbird Books)
  • The Soft Life: Love, Choice and Modern Dating by Lebohang Masango (Tafelberg)
  • Freedom Writer: My Life and Times by Juby Mayet (Jacana Media)
  • Unforgiven: Face to Face with my Father's Killer by Liz McGregor (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
  • The Enemy Within: How the ANC Lost the Battle Against Corruption by Mpumelelo Mkhabela (Tafelberg)
  • Letters to My Mother: The Making of a Troublemaker by Kumi Naidoo (Jacana Media)
  • Dear Comrade President: Oliver Tambo and the Foundations of South Africa’s Constitution by Andre Odendaal and Albie Sachs (Penguin Non-fiction)
  • Our Poisoned Land: Living in the Shadows of Zuma's Keepers by Jacques Pauw (Tafelberg)
  • The Lost Prince of the ANC: The Life and Times of Jabulani Nobleman “Mzala” Nxumalo by Mandla J Radebe (Jacana Media)
  • The Tyranny of Growth: Why Capitalism has Triumphed in the West and Failed in Africa by Malcolm Ray (Melinda Ferguson Books)
  • Apartheid’s Stalingrad: How the Townships of the Eastern Cape Stood up to the Apartheid War Machine by Rory Riordan (Jacana Media)
  • Lost on the Map: A Memoir of Colonial Illusions by Bryan Rostron (Bookstorm)
  • Rugby, Resistance and Politics: How Dan Qeqe Helped Shape the History of Port Elizabeth by Buntu Siwisa (Jacana Media)
  • First People: The Lost History of the Khoisan by Andrew Smith (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
  • Now You Know How Mapetla Died: The Story of a Black Consciousness Martyr by Zikhona Valela (Tafelberg)
  • The Unaccountables: The Powerful Politicians and Corporations who Profit from Impunity by Hennie Van Vuuren, Mamello Mosiana, Michael Marchant, Ra’eesa Pather (Jacana Media)
  • Guns and Needles: A Journey into the heart of South African Sports Steroid and Drug Culture by Clinton Van den Berg (Zebra)
  • The Blinded City: Ten Years In Inner-City Johannesburg by Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon (Picador Africa)
  • Manifesto: A New Vision for South Africa by Songezo Zibi (Pan Macmillan)

The shortlist will be announced later this year.

Last year Tshidiso Moletsane won the fiction prize for his novel Junx (Umuzi) and Mignonne Breier won the non-fiction award for her book Bloody Sunday: The Nun, the Defiance Campaign and South Africa's Secret Massacre (Tafelberg)

Click here to buy the books on the longlists

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