And the Sunday Times Literary Awards winners are ...
Bulelwa Mabasa and CA Davids were this week announced winners of the 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards, in partnership with Exclusive Books
Bulelwa Mabasa and CA Davids were this week announced winners of the 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards, in partnership with Exclusive Books, during a gathering at The Empire, the gala event space at the Sunday Times headquarters in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Mabasa won the nonfiction award for My Land Obsession: A Memoir (Picador Africa). Her 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”.
On winning the prize, Mabasa said: “I am so stoked about this win! The crazy thing is that winning an award was not even on my mind when writing the book. To win is a dream come true that I did not even fathom.
“I feel like this win illuminates and elevates the voices and stories of not only my ancestors and my family history, but also those of the many real-life communities of landless people in the restitution process who still yearn to get their land back. It is not only heart-warming that this work is recognised, it also feels like a warm hug to my 10-year-old self — I had big dreams, not just as a lawyer, but as an author too.”
CA Davids took home the fiction prize for How to Be a Revolutionary (Umuzi). Judges called the novel — her sophomore undertaking — “masterful”. They said: “A fascinating book made up of three different stories to create a whole that is increasingly relevant in a multipolar 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 Johannesburg to South Africa’s diplomatic mission in Shanghai. Newly divorced, childless and uneasy about her decision to remain in the employ of a regime she distrusts, she is adrift. Until she meets Zhao, her upstairs neighbour.
Davids said of her win: “It is an immense honour to be recognised with the 22nd Sunday Times Literary fiction award. Thank you to the Sunday Times, Exclusive Books and the judging panel for keeping fiction on the agenda.”
The nonfiction award criteria asked that the winner 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.
Dr Judy Dlamini, writer, medical doctor, philanthropist and chancellor of Wits University, 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, were the judges.
In the fiction category, the winner was required to 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 oilfield engineer turned banker turned writer Ekow Duker again chairing, joined by journalist and media consultant Kevin Ritchie and writer and political analyst Nomboniso Gasa.
Sunday Times books editor Jennifer Platt said this, the 33rd anniversary of the prestigious nonfiction award, “continues to recognise the best in South African writing, discourse and astute ability to bear careful witness to a country still going through enormous upheaval, change and challenges”.
“This being the 22nd year of the fiction award again demonstrates our citizens’ phenomenal creative forces and exceptional writing. It also shows the commitment from the Sunday Times and Exclusive Books to promoting and supporting local literature.
“We congratulate Mabasa, Davids and their publishers, and acknowledge the excellent and tough work done by the judging panels,” said Platt.
The winners each received R100,000.
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