[The JRB Daily] 2018 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist announced

The shortlists for the Sunday Times Literary Awards have been announced!

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and the Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction celebrate ‘the best of South African non-fiction and fiction’ from the previous year. The winners each receive R100 000.

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize criteria stipulate that the winning novel should be one of ‘rare imagination and style … a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction’. 

Last year’s Barry Ronge winner was Zakes Mda, for his novel Little Suns.

This year’s shortlist of five novels was selected by judges Africa Melane (chair), Kate Rogan and Ken Barris. The winner will be announced on Saturday, 23 June 2018.

Melane says, in the Sunday Times announcement:

The authors on this list help us search for truth, which is often unsettling and uncomfortable. There are stories of love and loss, of lives not yet lived and those long forgotten. Our history narrates heartbreak and pain, and we learn how to carry our past in our souls. The pulsating veins of our cities are laid bare through deeply personal accounts and there is a fearlessness in addressing controversial issues. The works are thought- provoking, unflinching and disturbing at times, but very compelling. Every read has been immensely rewarding.

2018 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist

(notes from Sunday Times Books LIVE)

  • Softness of the Lime, Maxine Case (Umuzi)

Set in the Cape of Good Hope in 1782, and drawing on Case’s own family history, the story traces the relationship between a wealthy Dutch settler and his young slave. The judges admired the fluent writing and vivid sense of place.

  • A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, Harry Kalmer (Penguin Books)

Kalmer probes the lives of a handful of disparate characters including the exiled, those returning from exile, and those who never left, casting back a hundred years and bringing the narrative right up to date. This richly faceted portrait of Jozi was applauded for its originality and finely observed writing.

  • The Third Reel, SJ Naudé (Umuzi)

Described as ‘intense, intelligent and accomplished’, Naudé’s unsettling novel is set in London and Berlin in the 80s and centres on a young man, Etienne, who has fled conscription in South Africa. It is an intense love story as well as a quiet exploration of film, architecture, music and art.

  • Bird-Monk Seding, Lesego Rampolokeng (Deep South)

Rampolokeng’s third novel is a stark portrait of a Groot Marico township two decades into South Africa’s democracy. Innovative and violently sensory, one judge noted that he ‘brandishes his scatting be-bop voice like a fearsome weapon’ as he renders the resilience of people marked by apartheid.

  • The Camp Whore, Francois Smith, translated by Dominique Botha (Tafelberg)

Based on the true story of a young woman who was raped and left for dead in a concentration camp during the Anglo-Boer War. She manages to recover and dedicates her life to healing trauma, but in the process comes face-to-face with her attacker. ‘An inspiring character and a deeply skilful, atmospheric story,’ noted the panellists.


The JRB Editor Jennifer was at the announcement:

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