Jonny Steinberg wins prestigious Book Critics Circle award for Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage
 More about the book!

Bestselling South African author and scholar Jonny Steinberg scooped the award for best biography for Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage at the National Book Critics Circle awards in New York last week – one of the most prestigious awards in the publishing industry!

Committee chair Elizabeth Taylor noted:

‘Steinberg’s deeply insightful, painstakingly researched Winnie and Nelson unmasks the Mandelas, sliding past their public mythos, and the simpler romantic narrative they told each other, to reveal the emotional labyrinth beneath. With its exploration of two radically different approaches to apartheid, this beautiful biography speaks movingly to present-day struggles for racial justice.’

On receiving the award, Steinberg said:

‘I’m really thrilled to receive this recognition. And I’m delighted, too, that an iconic South African tale is getting to a broader audience at a time when the cachet of the story of this country’s freedom struggle is waning.’

The National Book Critics Circle was founded in 1974 at New York’s legendary Algonquin Hotel by a group of the most influential critics of the day, and awarded its first set of honors the following year. Comprising more than 700 working critics and book-review editors throughout the country, the NBCC annually bestows its awards in six categories, honoring the best books published in the past year in the United States.

Click here for the full list of winners and for more information on the awards.

About the book

One of the most celebrated political leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela has been written about by many biographers and historians. But in one crucial area, his life remains largely untold: his marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

During his years in prison, Nelson grew ever more in love with an idealised version of his wife, courting her in his letters as if they were young lovers frozen in time. But Winnie, every bit his political equal, found herself increasingly estranged from her jailed husband’s politics. Behind his back, she was trying to orchestrate an armed seizure of power, a path he feared would lead to an endless war.

Jonny Steinberg tells the tale of this unique marriage – its longings, its obsessions, its deceits – making South African history a page-turning political biography.

Winnie and Nelson is a modern epic in which trauma doesn’t affect just the couple at its centre, but an entire nation.

It is also a Shakespearean drama in which bonds of love and commitment mingle with timeless questions of revolution, such as whether to seek retribution or a negotiated peace.Told with power and tender emotional insight, Steinberg reveals how far these forever entwined leaders would go for one another, and also, where they drew the line. For in the end both knew theirs was not simply a marriage, but a contest to decide how apartheid should be fought.

About the author

Jonny Steinberg is the author of several books about everyday life in the wake of South Africa’s transition to democracy. He is a two-time winner of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, and an inaugural winner of the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes. Until 2020, he was professor of African studies at Oxford University. He currently teaches part-time at the Council on African Studies at Yale University’s MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies and is visiting professor at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) in Johannesburg.

Categories International Non-fiction South Africa

Tags Awards Jonathan Ball Publishers Jonny Steinberg News Winnie and Nelson

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