The 2024 Sunday Times Literary Awards longlist

Announcing the longlists for SA’s most prestigious annual literary awards for non-fiction and the fiction award in partnership with Exclusive Books. This year marks the 34rd anniversary of the non-fiction and 23 years of the fiction prize.

16 June 2024 - 00:00 By JENNIFER PLATT
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Announcing the longlists for SA’s most prestigious annual literary awards for non-fiction and the fiction award in partnership with Exclusive Books.
Announcing the longlists for SA’s most prestigious annual literary awards for non-fiction and the fiction award in partnership with Exclusive Books.
Image: Supplied


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”.


Kevin Ritchie - Chair

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 Jo’burg. 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.

Hlonipha Mokoena

Mokoena received her PhD from the University of Cape Town in 2005. She is currently an associate professor and researcher at WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her articles have been published in: Journal of Natal and Zulu History; Journal of Religion in Africa; Journal of Southern African Studies; Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies; Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Text and Critical Arts.

Sewela Langeni

Langeni is an author and the owner of Book Circle Capital, an independent bookshop focusing on African Literature based in Melville, Johannesburg. She is passionate about literacy, especially in children. She is a Marketing Manager at one of South Africa's leading insurance companies. Her academic background spans from journalism, communication sciences and marketing. She holds a Master's degree in strategic marketing and consulting (cum laude) from the University of Birmingham, UK. Sewela is an avid reader and reviewer of local books for adults and kids. She facilitates book conversations with authors at the bookshop, book fairs and a weekly book feature on eTV's Morning Show SA.

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

Daisy de Melker: Hiding Among Killers in the City of Gold by Botha, Ted (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Finding Endurance: Shackleton, My Father and a World Without End by Bristow-Bovey, Darrel (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Domestic Terror: Intimate Partner Violence in South Africa by Brodie, Nechama (Kwela)

Harry Oppenheimer: Diamonds, Gold and Dynasty by Cardo, Michael (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom by De Ruyter, André (Penguin Non-fiction)

Durban’s Casbah: Bunny Chows, Bolsheviks and Bioscopes by Desai, Ashwin and Goolam, Vahed (UKZN Press)

Coloured: How Classification Became Culture by Dooms, Tessa and Chutel, Lynsey Ebony (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Decolonising the Palestinian Mind by Eid, Haidar (Inkani Books)

Rassie: Stories of Life and Rugby by Erasmus, Rassie with O’Sullivan, David (Pan Macmillan)

The Inheritors: An Intimate Portrait of South Africa’s Racial Reckoning by Fairbanks, Eve (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Place: South African Literary Journeys by Fox, Justin (Umuzi)

Zondo at Your Fingertips by Holden, Paul (Jacana Media)

Corrupted: A Study of Chronic Dysfunction in South African Universities by Jansen, Jonathan (Wits University Press)

I am Ella by Jowell, Joanne (Kwela)

Standing Up for Science: A Voice of Reason by Karim, Salim S Abdool (Pan Macmillan)

Milk the Beloved Country by Khumalo, Sihle (Umuzi)

Son of a Whore by Lategan, Herman (Penguin Fiction)

Capture in the Court: In Defence of Judges and the Constitution by Mafora, Dan (Tafelberg)

The Plot to Save South Africa: The Week Mandela Averted Civil War and Forged a New Nation by Malala, Justice (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Dolly Rathebe: Queen of African Jazz Blues & Mbaqanga by Mazibuko-Msimang, Nokuthula (Xarra Books)

Shoot to Kill: Police and Power in South Africa by McMichael, Christopher (Inkani Books)

Impossible Skies: Life with My Brother, the Artist Walter Meyer by Meyer, Frans (Melinda Ferguson Books)

Statues and Storms: Leading Through Change by Price, Max (Tafelberg)

The MiG Diaries: Fighter Pilot Memoirs and Accounts of Cuban, SAAF and Angolan Air Combat in Southern African Skies by Reid, Lionel with Lt-Col González Sarría, Eduardo (Burnet Media)

The Race To Be Myself by Semenya, Caster (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Maye! Maye!: The History and Heritage of the Kwa Mai Mai Market by Sithole, Sipho (Jacana Media)

Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage by Steinberg, Jonny (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

The Lion’s Historian: Africa’s Animal Past by Swart, Sandra (Jacana Media)

The End of Eden: Wild Nature in the Age of Climate Breakdown by Welz, Adam (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Wake Up, This Is Joburg by Zack, Tanya, photography by Lewis, Mark (Duke University Press)

Dearest MaRiky: A Mother’s Journey through Grief, Trauma and Healing by Zondo, Louisa (Jacana Media)


This is the 21st 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”.


Siphiwo Mahala - Chair

Mahala is an award-winning author, playwright and academic, with a PhD in English Literature. He is the author of the novel, When a Man Cries (2007), two short story collections, African Delights and Red Apple Dreams and Other Stories, and two critically acclaimed plays, The House of Truth and Bloke and His American Bantu. His latest book Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi (2022), won the Creative Non-Fiction Award at the SA Literary Awards. He is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, Senior Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study and editor of Imbiza Journal for African Writing.

Michele Magwood

In her long career Magwood has worked in radio, magazines and television and for 20 years was the Books Editor of the Sunday Times. She is the winner of two Mondi awards and the SALA award for literary journalism. A sought-after interviewer at book festivals, she currently works as a writer and editor and assesses manuscripts for publishers. She writes a books column for Business Day Wanted magazine. Magwood has a BA Honours degree from UKZN.

Dr Alma-Nalisha Cele

Cele is an experienced doctor with a demonstrated history of working in the pharmaceutical & health care industry. She is skilled in clinical skills, quality patient care, analytical skills, communication, and medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery – MBBCH focused in Medicine from University of the Witwatersrand and a postgraduate diploma (cum laude) in medicine development at University of Stellenbosch. She is also the co-founder of The Cheeky Natives, a literary podcast primarily focused on the review, curatorship and archiving of black literature. In 2019, she was named one of the Mandela Washington Fellows to undertake a prestigious fellowship in the United States. She was also named one of the Mail & Guardian’s top 200 Young South Africans in 2019.

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

Buried Treasure by Axelrad, Sven (Umuzi)

Bridge by Beukes, Lauren (Umuzi)

The Weight of Shade by Boyd, Michael (Karavan Press)

The Bitterness of Olives by Brown, Andrew (Karavan Press)

Lost Property by Choritz, Megan (Melinda Ferguson Books)

At Fire Hour by Gilder, Barry (Jacana Media)

Flipped by Hawthorne, Tracey (Modjaji Books)

On That Wave of Gulls by Head, Vernon RL (Jacana Media)

Each Mortal Thing by Heyns, Michiel (Umuzi)

The Ghost of Sam Webster by Higginson, Craig (Picador Africa)

My Side of the Ocean by Irwin, Ron (Pan Macmillan)

Glass Tower by Isaacs, Sarah (Holland House Books)

The Reed Dance Stalker by Makholwa, Angela (Pan Macmillan)

Three Egg Dilemma by Morojele, Morabo (Jacana Media)

The Frightened by Msimang, Lethokuhle (Karavan Press)

Tunnel by Mulgrew, Nick (Karavan Press)

A Soft Landing by Mushwana, Wisani (Kwela)

A Remedy for Death by Naidoo, Sarah M (Kwela)

Of Fathers and Fugitives by Naudé, SJ translated by Heyns, Michiel (Human & Rossouw)

On the Precipice by Nyatsumba, Kaizer M (Verity Publishers)

Eye Brother Horn by Pitt, Bridget (Catalyst Press)

The Resurrection by Qwabe, Sihle (Kwela)

Little Secrets by Schimmel, Gail (Pan Macmillan)

Bloomer by Schlebusch, Anne (Modjaji Books)

The Thing with Zola by Sithole, Zibu (Pan Macmillan)

Paperless by Siwisa, Buntu (Jacana Media)

The Institute for Creative Dying by Thompson, Jarred (Picador Africa)

Ghost Limb by Van der Merwe, Almini (Umuzi Trailblazer)

Decima by Venter, Eben (Umuzi)

Mirage by Viviers, David Ralph (Umuzi)

Sons of Mud by Vlok Louw, Johan (Umuzi)

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