Jonathan Ball Publishers are proud to present the winner of the 2020 Recht Malan Prize for Non-fiction: One Day in Bethlehem by Jonny Steinberg!
Steinberg was announced as the winner at the Media24 Books Literary Prizes last night.
Steinberg raises fundamental questions for the nation. What begins as an attempt at exoneration becomes a gripping meditation on truth and justice.’ – Sisonke Msimang, author of Always Another Country
‘Haunting, enraging and painful, One Day in Bethlehem is a tale of the catastrophic collision between the personal and the political. In real life, the good guys don’t always win.’ – Redi Tlhabi, author of Khwezi
‘A heartbreaking epic…impeccably researched and beautifully told by a vintage Steinberg.’ – Jacques Pauw, author of The President’s Keepers
A single moment can change a life forever …
A van full of men armed with AK47s is stopped by two policemen while driving through Bethlehem in the Free State. They open fire on the policemen and, from that moment, their lives are irrevocably changed. So too for Fusi Mofokeng, resident of Bethlehem, who was not at the scene of the crime but was the brother-in-law of one of the perpetrators. He is accused of being an accomplice and tried, sentenced and jailed.
19 years later, in 2011, Fusi is released into a world that has changed beyond recognition, a world in which his mother, father and brother have all died. Throughout his incarceration he fought for his release, appearing before the TRC, and schooling himself in law. Even today, he seeks a presidential pardon.
It is to this life that award-winning author Jonny Steinberg turns his attention in One Day in Bethlehem. In examining the life and struggle of Fusi Mofokeng, Steinberg shines a searing light on the burden of the ‘everyman’ in his quest for justice. In doing so, he also captures a country as it violently sheds the skin of the past to emerge, blinking, into the modern era.
About the author
Jonny Steinberg was born and raised in South Africa. He is twice winner of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award and an inaugural winner of the Windham–Campbell Prizes in Literature awarded by Yale University. Steinberg was educated at Wits University and Oxford University. He teaches at Oxford’s African Studies Centre and is visiting professor at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER). His previous books include A Man of Good Hope, The Number and Midlands.