Sunday Times Literary Awards prizes for works on rape and hunger

26 June 2016 - 02:00 By Staff reporter

Authors Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole were announced winners of this year's Sunday Times Literary Awards at a black-tie ceremony in Melrose Arch last night. Gqola, a gender activist and a professor of African literary and gender studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, received the 27th Alan Paton Award for her book Rape: A South African Nightmare , published by MF Books Joburg.This landmark book investigates the history and root causes of the epidemic of sexual violence."This is a fearless book that speaks a powerful truth of our times," said activist and author Achmat Dangor, who chaired the Alan Paton nonfiction panel.Accepting the award, Gqola said: "I am pleased and hopeful to live in a time when I could write this book and when these conversations can happen. We are starting to see a shift in our approaches to rape."Sithole was awarded the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his debut novel, Hunger Eats a Man. The story, set in KwaZulu-Natal, highlights the plight of many rural South Africans and the power of a community working together to bring about change. Sithole has a PhD in English studies and teaches at the University of Zululand.Rustum Kozain, the chair of the fiction prize judging panel, said: "This novel is something entirely new in South African literature, in terms of its language and style. The writing is exceptional in the way it bends English to its own purpose. It's a beautiful, disturbing, highly original novel with touches of unexpected humour."Accepting the award, Sithole thanked the people his book was about, although he knew "they would rather have food on their table".Public protector Thuli Madonsela said in her keynote address: "In putting their work out there even if it may not reflect popular views or views accepted by the powers that be, these authors have unwittingly given permission for others to follow their consciences."She said she was encouraged by the growing diversity reflected in the shortlist.Each winner receives R100,000.Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko said at the awards ceremony: "Their books offer us an opportunity to reflect and introspect."

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