A HOST of compelling South African stories have been selected for the long-list for the 2017 Barry Bonge Prize for fiction, writes ESTELLE SINKINS.
Hosted by the Sunday Times, in association with Porcupine Ridge, this is the 17th edition of the fiction prize, named for Barry Ronge, the arts commentator who was one of the founders of our literary awards. The winner will receive R100 000.
The criteria stipulate that the winning novel should be one of “rare imagination and style … a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction”.
Making the list this year are:
- Our Fathers, Karin Brynard (Penguin Books)
- Like It Matters, David Cornwell (Umuzi)
- The Long Wave, Tom Dreyer (Penguin Books)
- The God Who Made Mistakes, Ekow Duker (Picador Africa)
- In The Maid’s Room, Hagen Engler (Jacana Media)
- Travels With my Father, Karen Jennings (Holland Park)
- The Printmaker, Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (Umuzi)
- Nwelezelanga: The Star Child, Unathi Magubeni (Blackbird Books)
- Namaste Life, Ishara Maharaj (Modjaji Books)
- The Yearning, Mohale Mashigo (Picador Africa)
- Who Killed Piet Barol?, Richard Mason (Orion)
- Period Pain, Kopano Matlwa (Jacana Media)
- Little Suns, Zakes Mda (Umuzi)
- Midwinter, Fiona Melrose (Little, Brown)
- Pleasure, Nthikeng Mohlele (Picador Africa)
- Hamba Sugar Daddy, Nape `a Motana (Jacana Media)
- Agents of the State, Mike Nicol (Umuzi)
- The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso (Chatto & Windus)
- Outside the Lines, Ameera Patel (Modjaji Books)
- Bone Meal for Roses, Miranda Sherry (Head of Zeus)
- The Peculiars, Jen Thorpe (Penguin Books)
- The Safest Place You Know, Mark Winkler (Umuzi)
Picking the winner will be down to Rehana Rossouw (chairperson), a journalist and commissioning editor at Business Day, Africa Melane, host of the Weekend Breakfast Show on CapeTalk and Kate Rogan, owner of Love Books.
“South African authors are spoiled for choice,” says Rossouw. “Their local stories are stitched into a tapestry of a landscape ranging from tropical heat to dusty dorps.
“The longlist this year contains titles that weave the land and the people into compelling tales. Some authors deal with historical dispossession and despair; others discover the magic hidden in thick foliage and stark dustlands.
“All the authors examine the essence of a people propelled by a dream and led astray by dreamers — some with deft touches and others with scream-with-laughter satire.
“Crime remains a distinct theme but there’s always love; often sweet and sometimes twisted. It is going to be a struggle this year to choose one winner from a list that contains works by writers presenting their country in words that strike at the heart and linger on the synapses.”
Last year’s winner of the Barry Ronge Prize was Nkosinathi Sithole for his book, Hunger Eats a Man, published by Penguin Books.
ABOUT THE JUDGES
Rehana Rossouw has a masters degree in creative writing from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has taught journalism and creative writing at Wits, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism.
Her debut novel, What Will People Say?, published by Jacana in 2015, was shortlisted for the Etisalat Prize for African Fiction in 2015.
Africa Melane is an ambassador for LeadSA, an initiative of Primedia Broadcasting and Independent Newspapers.
He studied accounting at the University of Cape Town and did articles at PwC. He then went on to teach a professional development course to first-year students in the faculty of health sciences at the University of Cape Town.
Melane is the chairman of MODILA, a trust that offers educational programmes to provide training in design, innovation, entrepreneurship and art studies. He also serves on the board of Cape Town Opera, Africa’s premier opera company.
Kate Rogan is the owner of Love Books, an independent book shop in Johannesburg. She has a degree in English from the University of Cape Town and a post-graduate degree English (Hons) from Stellenbosch University, where she studied under Michiel Heyns.
She started her working life as a copywriter at 702, then moved into publishing where she was a commissioning editor at Zebra Press in its early days. She moved back to radio as a producer and for many years produced The Book Show for Jenny Crwys-Williams.
In 2009 she started Love Books.