Desiree-Anne Martin announced as winner of the Corona Fiction Competition

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The Corona Fiction competition drew over 1200 entries. (Photo: Getty Images)
The Corona Fiction competition drew over 1200 entries. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • The inaugural winner of the Arts24/Kwela Books Corona Fiction competition has been announced. 
  • Desiree-Anne Martin walked away with the R5000 cash prize for her short story titled Delirium.
  • The story, about an eleven-year-old girl living in lockdown on the Cape Flats will be available to read on Arts24 soon.


Desiree-Anne Martin has been named the winner of the Arts24/Kwela Books Corona Fiction competition for her short story Delirium on Thursday 16 July 2020. Delirium is the story of eleven-year-old Mia in lockdown on the Cape Flats with a father going through alcohol withdrawal. Phillippa Yaa de Villiers took second place with her story The Crown and Yashodhan Nair came in third with The Other Side of Glass

Desiree-Anne Martin took home the prize for her sh
Desiree-Anne Martin took home the prize for her short-story "Delirium" which focuses on Mia, a teenager locked down in the Cape Flats with an alcoholic father going through withdrawals. (Photo: Supplied)

Said Martin:

“I am thrilled to be the recipient of the prize of the inaugural Arts24/Kwela Books Corona Short Story Competition. Being given a platform to write about this prevalent pandemic and its impact on society highlighted, for me personally, the insidious nature of both the virus and its effects. Creative expression, I believe, can contribute immensely to our collective healing.”

The winner receives a cash prize of R5000 while the two finalists will each receive R2500. The winning stories will be published online by Arts24. 

The short story competition was launched on 11 May with a call for short prose entries which incorporated Covid-19 and the state of lockdown in South Africa in some way. By the closing date of 16 June, a total of 1266 entries were received. 

The judges, author and journalist Fred Khumalo, Arts24 Editor Lindokuhle Nkosi, News24 Lifestyle and Entertainment Editor Herman Eloff, Kwela Fiction Publisher Carolyn Meads and Kwela Fiction Editor Stevlyn Vermeulen, had the difficult task of whittling the high number of entries down to a shortlist of 20. The stories were judged anonymously but the top 20 candidates can now be revealed. They are, in no particular order:

Corona Fiction Shortlist
  • Narrative Breakdown by Colin Pegon
  • She Came from the Closet by Thango Ntwasa
  • Virus Online by Anne MJ Schlebusch
  • Delirium by Desiree-Ann Martin
  • A Flat White by Gary Hartley
  • Up in Smoke by Bulelwa Nolukhanyiso Madlingozi
  • Hollow Cast by Reyneke Adriaanse
  • Even More Inside by Estelle Nagel
  • The Crown by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers
  • Angel of Death by Barbara Murfin
  • Someone at the Door by Alistair Charles Mackay 
  • The Other Side of Glass by Yashodhan Nair
  • The Dead Man’s Toes by Melissa Gow
  • Mulberry Wine by Jessica Spyker
  • Lethal by Anele Ngubane
  • How to Survive a Pandemic in a Four-bedroom House by Anna Degenaar
  • White Torture by Eleanor Talbot 
  • Love and Fear in Times of Corona by Elaine Mills
  • Finding Love by the Frozen Foods by Belinda Rae Mountain
  • Homebound by Gabriella Razzano 

Lindokuhle Nkosi, Arts24 Editor, said: “The response was greater than we anticipated. I think this means that the public call resonated deeply and widely. This is the first writing competition Arts24 has participated in. We’re humbled by the number of entries, and excited by the talent.”

Carolyn Meads, Fiction Publisher at Kwela Books, said: “Kwela is proud to be a part of this initiative. It was very exciting to see the variety and quality of entries received. I was impressed by the talent on display and I hope that everyone who submitted a story will keep on writing. We need stories – especially in times such as these.” 

Look out for the short story to be published on Arts24 soon.

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