Announcing the 2020 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award shortlist – 3 fresh new voices demanding attention

Header image: Previous winners of the EU Literary Award/Dinaane Debut Fiction Award

The Jacana Literary Foundation has announced the shortlist for the 2019/20 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award!

Dinaane 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 that would likely otherwise not have been selected – for purely commercial reasons – by local publishers of literature.

For the past 15 years, first as the European Union Literary Award and now as The Dinaane Debut Fiction Award, this prize has unearthed great new literary talent within South Africa and now within southern African countries. 2019’s winner was The Mourning Bird by Zambian author Mubanga Kalimamukwento.

This year, the judges – Rehana Rossouw, Jennifer Malec and Christopher Thurman – read over 60 manuscripts and discovered a smorgasbord of fresh writing talent and excellent stories. South African writers are gifted with a loud cacophony of events and characters demanding white space on a writer’s page.

In alphabetical order, the following manuscripts have been shortlisted:

  • Christopher by Nozuko Siyotula
  • Scatterlings by Resoketswe Manenzhe
  • Sleeping Naked by Julia Landau

‘The novels shortlisted this year stood out from the rest because of their nuanced portrayals of the development of personhood in a world fixated by difference and disaster. The shortlisted manuscripts have all skilfully shaded in the grey areas between the black and white of existence and difference. There are few villains and heroes in these stories – characters make the best of the hugely difficult challenges created by the writers and often do not live up to the moral expectations of readers.

‘The shortlisted novels are highly intelligent renditions of actual, historical and imagined events that have shaped and disordered humanity at the tip of the continent. All of them deal with love and pain in the most compelling way. Some of them re-examine the past and discover fresh lessons for us all.

‘The shortlisted authors are fresh voices demanding attention. They have all skilfully made new meaning of the scars we bear and the future we imagine. It has been a privilege to read their work and a painful challenge to select a shortlist.’

– Rehana Rossouw

The overall winner, who will be awarded with a prize of R35,000, will be announced at an award ceremony held in Johannesburg during the month of March 2020.

The JLF will also present the 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 or publishing expert, enabling the author to refine and develop their work further.

About the judges

Rehana Rossouw, chair of this year’s judging panel, was born and rooted in Cape Town but is currently in self-imposed exile in Johannesburg. She has been a journalist for three decades and has also taught journalism and creative writing. She has a master’s in Creative Writing from the University of the Witwatersrand. What Will People Say? is her debut novel, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for literature and won the 2017 Humanities and Social Sciences Award in the category of single-authored fiction. Her second novel, New Times, was also released in 2017.

Jennifer Malec is the founding editor of The Johannesburg Review of Books and the publisher of The Reading List, a news website for books and the publishing industry. She is the former editor of Books LIVE, where she won Arts Journalism awards in 2015 (News: Gold) and 2016 (Features: Silver) and the 2016 African Blogger Award for Best in Arts and Culture. She has a master’s from UCT and spent a number of years as a soccer journalist. Twitter: @projectjennifer.

Chris Thurman is Associate Professor and Head of the English Department at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is also a columnist for Business Day. His arts journalism is collected in At Large: Reviewing the Arts in South Africa (2012) and Still at Large: Dispatches from South Africa’s Frontiers of Politics and Art (2017). Thurman is the editor of South African Essays on ‘Universal’ Shakespeare (2014) and Sport versus Art: A South African Contest (2010). His other books are the monograph Guy Butler: Reassessing a South African Literary Life (2010) and Text Bites, an anthology for high schools (2009).

Categories Africa Fiction South Africa

Tags Awards Christopher Christopher Thurman Dinaane Debut Fiction Award Jacana Literary Foundation Jacana Media Jennifer Malec Julia Landau News Nozuko Siyotula Rehana Rossouw Rešoketšwe Manenzhe Scatterlings Sleeping Naked

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