Here are the winners of the 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards in partnership with Exclusive Books

01 November 2023 - 20:36
By Mila de Villiers
The Sunday Times Literary Awards, in partnership with Exclusive Books, recognises the best of South African non-fiction and fiction.
Image: Supplied The Sunday Times Literary Awards, in partnership with Exclusive Books, recognises the best of South African non-fiction and fiction.

Bulelwa Mabasa and CA Davids were announced winners of the 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards, in proud partnership with Exclusive Books, during an in-person event at the Sunday Times’ HQ in Parktown, Johannesburg.

Mabasa won the non-fiction award for My Land Obsession: A Memoir (Picador Africa). Mabasa’s admirable book documents the writer-cum-lawyer’s life, those of her clients and others in attempting to regain what's theirs. The judges described My Land Obsession as “an engaging memoir. It’s inspirational, factual and relevant with many angles that define our past going back generations”.

CA Davids took home the fiction prize for How to be a Revolutionary (Umuzi). Judges called the novel – her second – “[m]asterful. A fascinating book made up of three different stories, to create a whole that is increasingly relevant in a multi-polar world where people’s pasts have to be grappled with to be made sense of”. In How to be a Revolutionary, protagonist Beth has been dispatched from Jo’burg to South Africa’s diplomatic mission in Shangai. Newly divorced, childless and uneasy about her decision to remain in the employ of a regime she distrusts, she is adrift in her own life. Until she meets Zhao, her upstairs neighbour.

The non-fiction award criteria asks that the winner should demonstrate the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power; compassion; elegance of writing; and intellectual and moral integrity.

Writer, medical doctor, philanthropist and chancellor of Wits University, Dr Judy Dlamini and Julian Rademeyer, award-winning investigative journalist and director of the Organised Crime Observatory for East and Southern Africa at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, paneled the non-fiction award.

The winner for the fiction prize 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. 

The judges remained the same as last year, with oil-field engineer turned banker turned writer, Ekow Duker once again chairing and joined by journalist and media consultant Kevin Ritchie and writer and political analyst Nomboniso Gasa.

Each winner will receive R100,000.

Our congratulations to both Mabasa and Davids.