Doyenne of the South African literary landscape Marguerite Poland was awarded the 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Literary Award for Fiction for her historical novel A Sin of Omission.
The book was also shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in 2020.
‘Marguerite is an exceptional author and human being and working with her has been such a privilege,’ says Fourie Botha, publisher of local fiction at Penguin Random House/Umuzi. ‘Each one of her books speaks of her eye for detail, innate storytelling ability and the empathy she feels for the characters. She really is the granddame of literary fiction in South Africa.’
A Sin of Omission tells the story of Stephen (Malusi) Mzamane, a young Anglican priest, who must journey to his mother’s rural home to inform her of his elder brother’s death. Stephen’s schooling at the Native College in Grahamstown and subsequent training at the Missionary College in Canterbury have caused deep conflict between his loyalties to the amaNgqika people, for whom his brother fought, and the colonial cause he as Reverend Mzamane is expected to uphold.
A Sin of Omission is a powerful act of historical recuperation and a compassionate exploration of identity and the consequences of broken promises.
Poland is the author of the novels Train to Doringbult (shortlisted for the CNA Award), Shades (shortlisted for the M-Net Award), Iron Love, Recessional for Grace and, most recently, The Keeper (winner of a Nielsen Booksellers Choice Award). Her non-fiction work includes the highly acclaimed The Abundant Herds: a Celebration of the Nguni Cattle of the Zulu People, based on her doctoral thesis in Zulu literature, and the memoir Taken Captive by Birds. Poland has been honoured with two Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Awards for children’s literature, an Ingwazi Award, and a SALA Lifetime Achievement Award; in 2016 she was awarded the National Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) by the South African President for her contribution to African languages.