No Dinaane Debut Fiction Award winner this year; 2017 Kraak Writing Grant goes to Maxzell Lerm
The Jacana Literary Foundation has announced the outcome of the 2017 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award and Kraak Writing Grant.
From the Jacana Literary Foundation:
Thank you to all the entrants who submitted their work for consideration for the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award in 2017. When the best you have is just short of excellence, we cannot nominate a winner and for the first time since its inception 13 years ago we will have no published book for this year’s award.
However, the judges unanimously agreed to award the Kraak Writing Grant, now in its second year, to the author of Heartbeat of Africa, Maxzell Lerm.
“The first half of the text is well written and powerful,” chair of judges Pamela Nichols says, “the writer shows clear promise that, with some editorial guidance, the work could be further developed.”
“The smell was overwhelming. It crawled up her nose and into her mouth with each breath. She had to bite down hard on her tongue to keep from vomiting. She tasted a warm trickle of blood and eased her teeth off the soft folds of her tongue. Stay calm, she told herself over and over; it was the only thing that kept her sane. The scent of rot was almost suffocating, and she dug her nails into her hands to prevent herself from seeking a way out. I need to be still, I need to survive, she reasoned with herself. The images from the past few days were playing back and forth in her mind, depriving her of sleep. She remembered her older brother and clenched her hand, recalling his warm palm in hers. It had been days since this nightmare started and not once had she shed a tear.”
– Extract from Heartbeat of Africa
Maxzell Lerm will receive mentoring and intensive coaching from an expert in the field, enabling her to refine and develop her work further.
Judges for the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award
Esteemed chair of the panel Pamela Nichols helped found and is currently the director of the Wits Writing Centre. Nichols did her first degree at Sussex University, taught and studied at the American University of Beirut, did a teaching degree at the Institute of Education, before going to New York University where she completed a doctorate in comparative literature guided by the work of Edward Said. Her published articles focus on writing centres, writing intensive teaching, writing programmes and democracy, and new South African writing.
Niq Mhlongo is a Sowetan-born writer and journalist known and loved for the piercing way in which he tackles current affairs and the madness of contemporary South Africa. He has written three novels – Dog Eat Dog (2004), After Tears (2007) and Way Back Home (2013) – and a collection of short stories, Affluenza (2016). His recent work grapples with issues such as crime, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, the new black elite, and land redistribution. Niq has also written for comic magazines, television and various other media platforms with numerous magazine articles under his belt.
Andrew Miller, the author of Dub Steps, which won the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award in 2015, joined the judging panel this year. As a commercial ghost writer and brand strategist, Andrew works with a range of South African media agencies to develop content and ideas for global and local business leaders and brands. As a speaker and poet he has appeared on a wide range of stages, from business schools to political talk shops and spoken word events.
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