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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Boeke | Books > Kennisgewings | Notices > English

M-Net Literary Awards shortlists: Diverse novels compete for top honours in 20th year of coveted book prize


Kortlys-fokus: Kategorie Afrikaans
Shortlist spotlight: Category English

M-Net has announced the shortlists for the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards, the prestigious book prize which is celebrating 20 years of honouring outstanding story-telling by South African authors this year. Ninety-five novels, published between January and December 2010, were submitted for consideration in the different categories, but from the many gems, the judges selected only the most sparkling jewels. 

The M-Net awards are unique in that they invite entries from all the country’s indigenous languages. This year's shortlisted novels fall into four language categories, which were determined by the number of published works received. The categories are Nguni (isiZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, SeSwati), Sotho (SeSotho, SePedi, SeTswana), Afrikaans and English. 

In addition to the top novels in each language category, the panel of judges also identified novels that showed potential to be developed into a screenplay for the film category. All the novels which were submitted for the main awards were automatically considered for this award, with the exception of novels with existing, attached screen rights.

While many of the books in all the language categories displayed strong narratives which could be portrayed vividly on the big screen, the universal appeal of these stories, the practicality of the adaptation, as well as the potential buzz and box office success, played a significant role in the final selection. The judges deliberated passionately about the filmic merit of a long list of suitable candidates but in the end narrowed it down to one book from each of the language categories.  

The prize money for each of the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards category winners was increased to R50 000 in cash (from R30 000). Here is the list of contenders in the different categories: 


Last Summer, Craig Higginson
(Pan Macmillan)
Double Negative, Ivan Vladislavic
(Umuzi Publishers)
In a Strange Room, Damon Galgut
(Penguin Books SA)
Zoo City, Lauren Beukes
(Jacana Media)


Afstande, Dan Sleigh (Tafelberg)
Die benederyk, Ingrid Winterbach (Human & Rousseau)
Dwaalpoort, Alexander Strachan (Tafelberg)
Marike se laaste dans, Deborah Steinmair (Human & Rousseau)

(English translation of the title in brackets)

Guga Mzimba (Young at heart) Khethiwe Agrineth Mkhize (Maskew Miller Longman) isiZulu
Inkululeko Isentabeni (Freedom is a struggle) Ncedile Saule (Hibbard Publishers) isiXhosa 
Ityeleba (Wild water mint - “a sweet-smelling traditional herb”) Siphatheleni Kula (Hibbard Publishers) isiXhosa


(English translation of the title in brackets)

Ha ditswere di tsanyaola (When the nightingales sing) Kgotso Pieter David Maphalla (Hibbard Publishers) Sesotho
Lehutšo (Hope) Kobate John Sekele (Hibbard Publishers) Sepedi
Tutudu ha e patwe (You can’t put a good man down) Mathene Mahanke (Nkahema Publishing & Consulting cc) Sesotho

Film Category

Happiness is a four-letter word, Cynthia Jele (Kwela Books) 
Lehutšo (Hope) Kobate John Sekele (Hibbard Publishers) Sepedi
Tou, Piet Steyn (Tafelberg)

The judges all agreed that this year's entries showcased thematic and formal diversity and applauded many of the authors' pluck in weaving multi-dimensional narratives or exploring tricky cultural issues which have not been dealt with in our literary world before. At the same time, the rift separating the great entries from the mediocre ones, raised important questions about the wisdom of publishing unfinished or unpolished works. 

Both the Sotho and Nguni language judges were impressed by the imaginative, fresh and bold handling of language by the shortlisted writers. They also praised the ways the readers were engaged by means of humour, anecdotes and cultural references.

In the English category, the judges noted that South African crime fiction has risen in stature and literary excellence and that the scope of narrative voices broadened to an exciting array of perspectives on the world we live in. Yet, the veteran authors continued to wield the tools of their craft in the most creative ways and therefore dominated this category.  

The Afrikaans category boomed with a variety of entries in different genres – from chick lit to crime stories and historical novels – penned by many established writers as well as new authors. A variety of themes were explored, but it was evident that the literary text was evolving to include the language of social media and the internet as well as the existential dilemmas of our information- and techno-crazy world.  
M-Net's Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications, Koo Govender, says the entries for this year's M-Net Literary Awards once again prove that the South African novel is alive and kicking. "We would like to thank all the authors, book editors and publishers for their contribution to our unique literary heritage and will continue to review the mechanisms of the M-Net Literary Awards to acknowledge true talent."

The winners of the M-Net Literary Awards will be announced on Saturday, 18 June, at a gala event in Cape Town.