[The JRB Daily] Gabeba Baderoon and Mphuthumi Ntabeni win the UJ Prizes for South African Writing

The winners have been announced for the University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African Writing in English.

The 2019 edition of the prize celebrates works published in 2018.

Gabeba Baderoon has won the Main Prize for her book of poems The History of Intimacy, and Mphuthumi Ntabeni has been awarded the Debut Prize for his novel The Broken River Tent.

Baderoon wins prize money of R70,000, while Ntabeni receives R35,000. 

A formal prize-giving ceremony will be held at a function later in the year.

This year over sixty works of fiction, poetry, short stories, essays and biography were under consideration for the prize. Unlike most literary awards, the UJ Prizes are not linked to a specific genre, as, according to the organisers, the idea is to ‘open the prize to as many forms of creative writing as possible’.

‘This may make the evaluation more challenging,’ the prize organisers say, ‘in the sense that, for example, a volume of poetry, a novel and a biographical work must be measured against one another, but the idea is to open the prize to as many forms of creative writing as possible.’

The UJ Prize shortlists were:

Main Prize

  • The Ones With Purpose by Nozizwe Cynthia Jele
  • The History of Intimacy by Gabeba Baderoon
  • A Spy in Time by Imraan Coovadia

Debut Prize

  • An Image in a Mirror by Ijangolet S Ogwang
  • The Broken River Tent by Mphuthumi Ntabeni
  • The Theory of Flight by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu
  • You Have to be Gay to Know God by Siya Khumalo

Last year Lesego Rampolokeng won the Main Prize for his novel Bird-Monk Seding, and Barbara Boswell was awarded the Debut Prize for her novel Grace.

Previous winners include Nthikeng Mohlele, Mohale Mashigo, Craig Higginson, Eliza Kentridge, Nkosinathi Sithole, Zakes Mda, Penny Busetto, Lauren Beukes, Dominique Botha, Ken Barris and Steven Boykey Sidley.

The adjudication panel this year was:

  • Sikumbuzo Mngadi (chair)
  • Ronit Frenkel (coordinator)
  • Victoria Collis-Buthelezi
  • Thabo Tsehloane
  • Bridget Grogan
  • Rebecca Fasselt

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