Books shortlisted for literary awards 'open a window on SA lives'

17 May 2015 - 02:00 By JENNIFER PLATT

The shortlists for the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards were announced at the Franschhoek Literary Festival last night.

The awards celebrate the best of South African nonfiction and fiction writing over the past year.

This is the 26th year of the Alan Paton Award for nonfiction.

The chairman of the Alan Paton Award judging panel, author and historian Bill Nasson, said this year's shortlisted books were "admirably imaginative" and "open a wide window upon lives being made and also remade in South Africa".

This is the 15th edition of the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, but the first to bear the name of Barry Ronge, the Sunday Times's longtime arts commentator and one of the founders of our awards.

Annari van der Merwe, chairwoman of the prize's judging panel, said last year "was a bumper year for South African English fiction ... one wishes the shortlist could have contained more than only five titles."

Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt said the newspaper's commitment to the awards was strengthened by the quality of the shortlists.

The prize money for each award has been increased - from R75000 to R100000.

The winners will be announced at a gala function in Johannesburg on June 27.

Last year's prizes were won by Max du Preez, who took the Alan Paton Award for A Rumour of Spring: South Africa after 20 Years of Democracy, and Claire Robertson, who won the fiction prize for her novel The Spiral House.

The Alan Paton Award for nonfiction shortlist is:

  • Askari: A Story of Collaboration and Betrayal in the Anti-apartheid Struggle by Jacob Dlamini (Jacana, R225);
  • Lost and Found in Johannesburg by Mark Gevisser (Jonathan Ball Publishers, R230);
  • DF Malan and the Rise of Afrikaner Nationalism by Lindie Koorts (Tafelberg, R250);
  • Postmortem: The Doctor Who Walked Away by Maria Phalime (Tafelberg, R185); and
  • A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg (Jonathan Ball Publishers, R220)
  • The novels on the shortlist for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize are:
  • Tales of the Metric System by Imraan Coovadia (Umuzi, R250);
  • Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut (Umuzi, R180);
  • The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga (Umuzi, R180);
  • The Savage Hour by Elaine Proctor (Quercus, R275); and
  • October by Zoë Wicomb (Umuzi, R240).

Erika Oosthuizen, non-fiction publisher at Tafelberg, which has two shortlisted authors, said: "We have some of the most talented writers."

Fourie Botha, publisher at Umuzi, which has four shortlisted authors, said they "had an amazing year of talent".