Three fiction manuscripts shortlisted for Dinaane Debut Fiction Award

Dinaane Pamela Nichols

Pamela Nichols is the chairperson of the judges for the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award.

THE following fiction manuscripts – No Word Like Home by Saul Musker, Selling Lip-Service by Tammy Baikie and The Last Stop by Thabiso Mofokeng- have been short-listed for the 2015/2016 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award.

The winner, who will receive R35 000, and have their book revealed in print, will be announced in October.

Non-fiction takes the lion’s share of sales of books made in South Africa, with fiction limited to a very small percentage of all sales of locally published books.

Many locally published novels sell just a few hundred copies, making it difficult for publishers to recoup the costs of publication from sales. This means that sometimes wonderful, illuminating and challenging fiction doesn’t get published.

Dinaane, the only award of its kind, aims to promote new southern African fiction that speaks to both a local and international audience. It encourages new writers and new readers by publishing material which would likely otherwise not have been selected – for purely commercial reasons – by local publishers of literature.

This year’s entries were judged blind by a panel comprising Pamela Nichols (chairperson), Fred Khumalo and Maureen Isaacson. In addition to the short list the judges also praised another four manuscripts – Braids and Migraines by Andile Cele, Settlement by Phillip Doran, The Binding Hut by Mathabo Masilela and The Unfamous Five by Nedine Moonsamy.

In a ‘first of its kind’ the Jacana Literary Foundation will also present the inaugural Kraak Writing Award with the winning writer selected from the runners-up. The grant is valued at R25 000 and dedicated to the memory of Gerald Kraak. It will offer the recipient mentoring and intensive coaching from an editor/publishing expert enabling the author to refine and develop their work still further.

“One of the best features of this award is the complete anonymity of the authors,” said Nichols, director of the Wits Writing Centre.

“This means that we frequently get surprised at the end of the process. And our judgement doesn’t get complicated by friendship or reputation because we have no idea of who wrote what. This is important in a literary culture which is frequently closed and inward looking.

“So the Dinaane Literary Debut Award is important because it has encouraged a complete cross section of entries. And the winning authors are able to get new fiction into an extended public repertoire of southern African literature.

“The 2015 winner [Andrew Miller] said that he had never made any shortlist or got anywhere with a publisher before. We hope that he and the 2016 winner are at the beginning of their contribution to extending our literary horizons.”

  • This story was first published in The Witness.

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