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Boeke | Books > Kennisgewings | Notices > English

Shortlists for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award and Fiction Prize announced


2011-05-16

South Africa ’s literary greats and book lovers alike all gathered in Franschhoek this weekend for the shortlist announcement of the country’s pre-eminent literary accolade, the Sunday Times Literary Awards. The short listing event, hosted at Le Quartier Francais restaurant, saw ten of South Africa’s books earmarked as finalists for the 2011 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, celebrating its 22 nd year, and the Fiction Prize, its 11 th year.

The shortlisted books for the Alan Paton Award are Finish & Klaar by Adriaan Basson (published by Tafelberg), The Unlikely Secret Agent by Ronnie Kasrils (published by Jacana), Steeped in Blood by David Klatzow and Sylvia Walker (published by Zebra), Fighting for Justice by Jay Naidoo (published by Picador Africa) and The War for South Africa by Bill Nasson (published by Tafelberg).

The shortlisted books for the Fiction Prize are Not a Fairy Tale by Shaida Kazie Ali (published by Umuzi), Deeper than Colour by James Clelland (published by Jacana), Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer (published by Hodder & Stoughton), Young Blood by Sifizo Mzobe (published by Kwela) and Double Negative by Ivan Vladislaviċ (published by Umuzi).

Newspaper columnist, author and convenor of the Platform for Public Deliberation at the University of Johannesburg, Dr Xolela Mangcu, is the chairman of this year’s Alan Paton Awards judging panel. According to Mangcu the judging process gets more challenging each year as the quality of entries increases. “The shortlist is an excellent example of what the American sociologist C Wright Mills called the sociological imagination. This is the kind of imagination that ‘enables us to grasp history and biography and the relation between the two within society’. These books bring us to a far more nuanced understanding of the struggle against apartheid as both political and personal,” adds Mangcu.

When asked what the nomination of the Alan Paton Award meant to him, Ronnie Kasrils, replied: “I wrote the Unlikely Secret Agent for my wife, Eleanor, who was an extraordinary, elegant, modest and demure person. We were married for 48 years and made wonderful memories together. Through this book, I give honour to Eleanor’s life and being nominated for this award is an outstanding honour.”

For this year’s Fiction Prize, “Newcomers sit easily in the company of their more established peers on the 32-title longlist,” says Sunday Times books editor Tymon Smith. “As always, crime writing continues to be a popular genre. The range of crimes and periods of history covered in the crime genre are vast, and there are a number of fascinating detectives and criminals being created by local crime writers.”

“As always, the task of choosing five books was a difficult and fraught task for the judging panel for this year’s Fiction Prize,” says Smith. It seems unfair to have to select only five novels for the opportunity to win the R75 000 prize but it had to be done and in the end the panel felt that the shortlist they chose reflects the diversity of local fiction and the encouraging mix between more established and new voices that is always an important part of the process.”

Michiel Heyns, who headed up the English Department at Stellenbosch University and who is chairman of the Fiction Prize judging panel, says that it was good to see that many writers who have

had their debut novels on previous longlists have continued to produce work and are now into their second and third novels, improving and expanding their range and voices.

“History will always be a topic of exploration for authors in South Africa and this year was no exception, with writers examining the political intrigues and psychological trauma in the dark shadows of our recent past,” adds Heyns. “We were pleased and impressed with the variety of experience that found expression in these novels. The five books each depicts, with precision, passion and often humour, a precise milieu. They produce a short list as vivid, varied, surprising and disconcerting as the country that produced it.”

The overall winners of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award and the Fiction Prize will be announced on the 25 June at Summer Place in Johannesburg.