And the final contenders for The 2017 Sunday Times Literary Awards are...

16 May 2017 - 02:00 By Tymon Smith
Alan Paton Award winner Pumla Dineo Gqola and Barry Ronge Fiction Award winner Nkosinathi Sithole with Sunday Times Editor Bongani Siqoko and Adv Thuli Madonsela at the Sunday Times Literary Awards held at The Venue in Melrose Arch.
Alan Paton Award winner Pumla Dineo Gqola and Barry Ronge Fiction Award winner Nkosinathi Sithole with Sunday Times Editor Bongani Siqoko and Adv Thuli Madonsela at the Sunday Times Literary Awards held at The Venue in Melrose Arch.
Image: Daylin Paul

The Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists for fiction and nonfiction were announced at the weekend. Here's which local books made the cut


Bronwyn Law-Viljoen's The Printmaker (Umuzi)

As head of the MA Creative Writing programme at Wits, Bronwyn Law-Viljoen has shepherded many writers through the difficult journey from idea to publication. Here, in her own carefully crafted debut novel, she has created a complex and emotionally layered examination of the creative process, through the story of the attempts of the friend of a dead printmaker to make sense of his life's work.


Kopano Matlwa's Period Pain (Jacana)

Since her debut novel, Coconut, winner of the 2007 European Union Literary Award and the 2010 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, Kopano Matlwa has been heralded as the leading novelist of the "born-free" generation.

After mixed responses to 2012's Spilt Milk, her third novel - the story of a teenager coming to terms with her own growing pains in a country equally struggling to find its way - has earned the author her first shortlist nomination. Whatever happens next, Matlwa continues to be a young novelist growing from strength to strength.


Zakes Mda's Little Suns (Umuzi)

The winner of the inaugural Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2001 for Heart of Redness, veteran novelist Mda's latest book continues the author's exploration of the relationship between South Africa's history and its present through the story of the dispossession and displacement of the amaMpondomise which resonates strongly with the issue of decolonisation in present-day South African debate.



Yewande Omotoso's The Woman Next Door (Chatto & Windus)

Her first novel, Bom Boy, was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2012 and won the South African Literary Award for a first-time published author. Now with her second novel - the story of two very different and confrontational neighbours - Omotoso has once again earned herself a place amongst the best of the present generation of talented young African novelists.


Mark Winkler's The Safest Place You Know (Umuzi)

Winkler's third novel tells the story of lives brought together after tragedy against the backdrop of the changing South African landscape of the 1980s. Sensitively observed, it's earned its author comparisons with JM Coetzee and a well-deserved spot on this year's shortlist.




Sean Christie's Under Nelson Mandela Boulevard: Life Among The Stowaways (Jonathan Ball)

Christie's dedicated and sensitively observed account of his relationship with members of Tanzanian stowaways who live under the highway in Cape Town is a powerful tale of friendship and the plight of immigrants in post-apartheid South Africa.


Christa Kuljian's Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race, And The Search For Human Origins (Jacana Media)

A book that makes the science behind the history of human origins in South Africa accessible while also placing it within the context of ideas about race and ethnicity, and the prejudices of the scientists who made the discoveries.



Greg Marinovich's Murder At Small Koppie: The Real Story Of The Marikana Massacre (Penguin Random House )

The most extensive and thoroughly researched account thus far of the Marikana massacre, veteran journalist Marinovich's book earns its place on the short list thanks to its author's dedication and passion for exposing the truth behind the greatest stain on the nation's history in the post-apartheid era.


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

In the first of a two-part memoir, the former deputy chief justice writes movingly of the many people who influenced him on the road to becoming one of the most respected legal minds in South Africa.


Steven Robins's Letters Of Stone: From Nazi Germany To South Africa (Penguin Books)

Anthropologist Robins weaves a moving tale of the discovery of the story of his family's history in Nazi Germany, which delivers a powerful and thoughtful examination of the power of memories and hidden secrets of the past.


The winners will be announced in Johannesburg on June 24.

This article was originally published in the Times.