Sunday Times CNA Literary Awards 2021 longlists

Announcing the longlists for SA's most prestigious literary awards

25 April 2021 - 00:00 By and jennifer platt
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The longlists for the 2021 Sunday Times CNA Literary Awards have been announced.
The longlists for the 2021 Sunday Times CNA Literary Awards have been announced.
Image: 123RF/Aleksey Lisitsyn

After a year's hiatus due to Covid-19 fallout, the longlists are a lot longer this year as the judges are assessing two years' worth of books.

We can now proudly, thanks to CNA, announce that the 31st non-fiction and the landmark 20th fiction prize will be awarded.

Here are the contenders ...


This is the 20th year of the 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”.



Barris is a writer, editor and former academic. His fiction has been translated into German, Danish and Turkish, and he has won various literary awards for novels, short stories and poetry. These include the Ingrid Jonker Prize, the M-Net Book Prize, the Thomas Pringle Award, the University of Johannesburg Prize and the Herman Charles Bosman Prize.


Richards is an independent journalist with experience in radio and print. Founder of NPO: Woman Zone and the Women's Library at Artscape, she's author of Beautiful Homes and co-author of Woman Today: 50 Years of South African Women on Radio and Being a Woman in Cape Town. She is a speaker, media trainer and podcasts under Woman Zone Stories and Books Stories People on


Mbao is a writer and essayist. He reviews fiction for the Johannesburg Review of Books and teaches South African literature at Stellenbosch University. His short story “The Bath” was listed as one of the 20 best stories of SA's democracy, and he has compiled and edited the poetry collection Years of Fire and Ash: South African Poems of Decolonisation.

Will, the Passenger Delaying Flight ... by Barbara Adair (Modjaji Books)

Those Who Live in Cages by Terry-Ann Adams
(Jacana Media)

Mermaid Fillet by Mia Arderne (Kwela)

Afterland by Lauren Beukes (Umuzi)

Not To Mention by Vivian de Klerk (Picador Africa)

Okay, Okay, Okay by Finuala Dowling (Kwela)

Yellowbone by Ekow Duker (Kwela)

The Book of Malachi by TC Farren (Kwela)

Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch (Karavan Press)

The Eyes of the Naked by Litha Hermanus (Penguin Fiction)

The fiction prize longlist.
The fiction prize longlist.
Image: Supplied

A Poor Season for Whales by Michiel Heyns (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

The Book of Gifts by Craig Higginson (Picador Africa)

The Gospel According to Wanda B. Lazarus by Lynn Joffe (Modjaji Books)

The Longest March by Fred Khumalo (Umuzi)

Critical But, Stable by Angela Makholwa (Pan Macmillan)

Scatterlings by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe (Jacana Media)

The Zulus of New York by Zakes Mda (Umuzi)

Paradise in Gaza by Niq Mhlongo (Kwela)

Illumination by Nthikeng Mohlele (Picador Africa)

The History of Man by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (Penguin Fiction)

Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga (Umuzi)

A Family Affair by Sue Nyathi (Pan Macmillan)

Born Freeloaders by Phumlani Pikoli (Picador Africa)

A Sin of Omission by Marguerite Poland (Penguin Fiction)

Lucky Packet by Trevor Sacks (Kwela)

The Inn at Helsvlakte by Patricia Schonstein (Penguin Fiction)

Leaving Word by Steven Boykey Sidley (Melinda Ferguson Books)

Lacuna by Fiona Snyckers (Picador Africa)

The Fall by Jen Thorpe (Kwela)

The Distance by Ivan Vladislavić  (Umuzi)

Still Life by Zoë Wicomb (Umuzi)

Due South of Copenhagen by Mark Winkler (Umuzi)

The Troubled Times of Magrieta Prinsloo by Ingrid Winterbach
translated by Michiel Heyns (Human & Rousseau)


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”.



Shea is the founder of Bridge Books, an independent bookstore in downtown Johannesburg, and the author of a young adult novel, The Golden Rhino. Bridge Books focuses on African literature, and on finding new ways of getting books to readers. The store's non-profit African Book Trust is the lead partner in the Literary District project, a collaboration among booksellers, city agencies, businesses and other volunteers. Before opening Bridge Books, Griffin worked as a journalist for 15 years, mostly with the international news agency Agence France-Press (AFP).


Mathiane has been a journalist for more than 35 years. Her writing career began in 1975 as a reporter at The World newspaper, and she later joined Frontline magazine where she specialised in writing about life in South African townships. Since then she has worked for most of SA's major newspapers. She has written three books: Beyond the Headlines, South Africa: Diary of Troubled Times, and Eyes in the Night: An Untold Zulu Story. She now teaches isiZulu at a private primary school.


Ngqulunga is director of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Johannesburg. He is the author of The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme, which won multiple awards, including the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction in 2018. Ngqulunga was educated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and at Brown University in the US, where he obtained a doctoral degree.

The non-fiction longlist.
The non-fiction longlist.
Image: Supplied

Inside the Belly of the Beast: The Real Bosasa Story by Angelo Agrizzi (Truth Be Told Publishers)

War Party: How the ANC's Political Killings are Breaking South Africa by Greg Ardé (Tafelberg)

Madness: Stories of Uncertainty and Hope by Sean Baumann (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Autopsy: Life in the Trenches with a Forensic Pathologist in Africa by Ryan Blumenthal (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

And Wrote My Story Anyway: Black South African Women's Novels as Feminism by Barbara Boswell (Wits University Press)

Dance of the Dung Beetles: Their Role in our Changing World by Marcus Byrne & Helen Lunn (Wits University Press)

The Murder of Ahmed Timol: My Search for the Truth by Imtiaz A Cajee (Jacana Media)

Safari Nation: A Social History of the Kruger National Park by Jacob Dlamini (Jacana Media)

The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World's Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Radio Soundings: South Africa and the Black Modern by Liz Gunner (Wits University Press)

Rebels and Rage: Reflecting on #FeesMustFall by Adam Habib (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

So, for the Record: Behind the Headlines in an Era of State Capture by Anton Harber (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

These Are Not Gentle People: A True Story by Andrew Harding (Picador Africa)

Death and the After Parties: A Memoir by Joanne Hichens (Karavan Press)

The Misery Merchants: Life and Death in a Private South African Prison by Ruth Hopkins (Jacana Media)

Learning Lessons by Jonathan Jansen (Bookstorm)

Promised Land: Exploring South Africa's Land Conflict by Karl Kemp (Penguin Non-fiction)

Khamr: The Makings of a Waterslams by Jamil F Khan (Jacana Media)

Because I Couldn't Kill You: On her Feminist Struggle, Missing Father and the Myths of Memory by Kelly-Eve Koopman (Melinda Ferguson Books)

Of Motherhood and Melancholia: Notebook of a Psycho-ethnographer by Lou-Marié Kruger (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press/Women)

The Land Wars: The Dispossession of the Khoisan and AmaXhosa in the Cape Colony by John Laband (Penguin Non-fiction)

Becoming Men: Black Masculinities in a South African Township by Malose Langa (Wits University Press)

Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture by Pieter-Louis Myburgh (Penguin Non-fiction)

The Blackridge House: A Memoir by Julia Martin (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Violence and Solace: The Natal Civil War in Late-Apartheid South Africa by Mxolisi R Mchunu (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press)

The Lie of 1652: A Decolonised History of Land by Patric Tariq Mellet (Tafelberg)

All Rise: A Judicial Memoir by Dikgang Moseneke (Picador Africa)

Wanted Dead & Alive: The Case for South Africa's Cattle by Gregory Mthembu-Salter (Cover2Cover)

Women in Solitary: Inside the Female Resistance to Apartheid by Shanthini Naidoo (Tafelberg)

Predator Politics: Mabuza, Fred Daniel and the Great Land Scam by Rehana Rossouw (Jacana Media)

Death Flight: Apartheid's Secret Doctrine of Disappearance by Michael Schmidt (Tafelberg)

Dirty Tobacco: Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits — A SARS Insider Spills the Beans on Global Crime by Telita Snyckers (Tafelberg)

One Day in Bethlehem by Jonny Steinberg (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Parcel of Death: The Biography of Onkgopotse Abram Tiro by Gaongalelwe Tiro (Picador Africa)

Corridors of Death: Struggling to Exist in Historically White Institutions by Malaika wa Azania (Blackbird Books)

The Whistleblowers by Mandy Wiener (Pan Macmillan South Africa)

My Only Story: The Hunt for a Serial Paedophile by Deon Wiggett (Penguin Non-fiction)

Made in South Africa: A Black Woman's Stories of Rage, Resistance and Progress by Lwando Xaso (Tracey MacDonald Publishers)

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