Header image: Previous winners of the EU Literary Award/Dinaane Debut Fiction Award
The Jacana Literary Foundation has announced the shortlist for the 2019/20 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award!
Dinaane aims to promote new southern African fiction that speaks to both a local and international audience. It encourages new writers and new readers by publishing material that would likely otherwise not have been selected—for purely commercial reasons—by local publishers of literature.
For the past fifteen years, first as the European Union Literary Award and now as The Dinaane Debut Fiction Award, this prize has unearthed great new literary talent within South Africa and now within southern African countries. 2019’s winner was The Mourning Bird by Zambian author Mubanga Kalimamukwento.
This year, the judges—Rehana Rossouw, Jennifer Malec and Christopher Thurman—read over sixty manuscripts and discovered a smorgasbord of fresh writing talent and excellent stories. South African writers are gifted with a loud cacophony of events and characters demanding white space on a writer’s page.
In alphabetical order, the following manuscripts have been shortlisted:
- Christopher by Nozuko Siyotula
- Scatterlings by Resoketswe Manenzhe
- Sleeping Naked by Julia Landau
‘The novels shortlisted this year stood out from the rest because of their nuanced portrayals of the development of personhood in a world fixated by difference and disaster. The shortlisted manuscripts have all skilfully shaded in the grey areas between the black and white of existence and difference. There are few villains and heroes in these stories – characters make the best of the hugely difficult challenges created by the writers and often do not live up to the moral expectations of readers.
‘The shortlisted novels are highly intelligent renditions of actual, historical and imagined events that have shaped and disordered humanity at the tip of the continent. All of them deal with love and pain in the most compelling way. Some of them re-examine the past and discover fresh lessons for us all.
‘The shortlisted authors are fresh voices demanding attention. They have all skilfully made new meaning of the scars we bear and the future we imagine. It has been a privilege to read their work and a painful challenge to select a shortlist.’
The overall winner, who will be awarded with a prize of R35,000, will be announced at an award ceremony held in Johannesburg during the month of March 2020.
The JLF will also present the Kraak Writing Award, with the winning writer selected from the runners up. The grant is valued at R25,000 and dedicated to the memory of Gerald Kraak. It will offer the recipient mentoring and intensive coaching from an editor or publishing expert, enabling the author to refine and develop their work further.