Johnny Clegg's memoir wins literary prize

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Johnny Clegg. (Photo: Getty Images)
Johnny Clegg. (Photo: Getty Images)

Several literary awards were recently handed out with many South African authors receiving accolades for their work - including musician Johnny Clegg posthumously. 

Two Zimbabwean writers, one resident in South Africa, have won awards for their fiction in the Windham-Campbell Prize, administered by Yale University. They are Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, author of The Theory of Flight (also the winner of the Sunday Times Fiction Prize), and The History of Man, and Tsitsi Dangarembga, famous for her 1988 novel Nervous Conditions and her more recent This Mournable Body.

Mary Watson has won the Philida Literary Award, given in memory of André Brink and named for his last novel. The award is given to a mid-career writer for an oeuvre of three to five books. Watson’s fiction includes Moss and The Cutting Room; her latest novel, Blood to Poison, will be published later this month. Watson is from Cape Town but now lives in Ireland. 

The Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Awards were announced at the end of March by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS). The awards don’t get much noticed because the NIHSS’s publicity is nearly as bad as that of the South African Literary Awards, which dispenses 25 prizes in all South African languages.

Hauntings edited by Niq Mhlongo (Jacana)
Hauntings edited by Niq Mhlongo (Jacana).

This year’s HSS Awards winners are:

• Joint winners for an anthology: Wild (Im)perfections edited by Natalia Molebatse and Hauntings edited by Niq Mhlongo

• For novels: The Lost Language of the Soul by Mandla Langa, They Got to You Too by Futhi Ntshingila, and Kompoun by Ronelda Kamfer (who incidentally also won a “regional poet laureate” award in the South African Literary Awards)

• Best poetry: Ilifa by Athambile Masola and Yellow Shade by Dimakatso Sedite

• Short stories: The Discovery of Love by Nthikeng Mohlele.

• Edited non-fiction volumes: Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History edited by Patricia Hayes and Gary Minkley and Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa edited by Desiree Lewis and Gabeba Baderoon

• Best non-fiction: Female Fear Factory by Pumla Dineo Gqola and History of South Africa: From 1902 to the Present by Thula Simpson

• Best biography: Scatterling of Africa by Johnny Clegg 

Scatterling of Africa: My Early Years by Johnny Cl
Scatterling of Africa: My Early Years by Johnny Clegg. (Pan Macmillan)

Dangarembga and Langa appear at this year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival (13-15 May).

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