[The JRB Daily] Rešoketšwe Manenzhe wins the 2020 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award for her novel manuscript Scatterlings

Rešoketšwe Manenzhe has been announced as the winner of the 2020 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award, for her novel manuscript Scatterlings.

The Dinaane Award, run by the Jacana Literary Foundation, aims to ‘promote new southern African fiction that speaks to both a local and international audience’. The award also ‘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’.

Manenzhe receives a R35,000 cash prize, and a publishing deal with Jacana Media for the book.

The book’s cover was revealed at the award ceremony. Scatterlings will be published in September 2020.

The prize was judged by award-winning journalist and novelist Rehana Rossouw (chair), academic and arts journalist Christopher Thurman and The JRB Editor Jennifer Malec.

‘Scatterlings is a brilliant piece of writing, telling a story seldom told in South Africa,’ Malec says. ‘It is a compelling, original novel, ambitious in its form, with a pioneering depth of research.’

The Kraak Writing Grant and second place went to Julia Landau, author of Sleeping Naked. The grant is valued at R25,000 and is dedicated to the memory of Gerald Kraak. It offers the recipient mentoring and intensive coaching from renowned editor, publishing expert and writer Alison Lowry, enabling the author to refine and develop their work further.

Nozuko Siyotula was placed third for her her novel Christopher, which the judges described as an ‘exceptionally well-written and creative manuscript’.

The three shortlisted authors, Rešoketšwe Manenzhe (winner), Nozuko Siyotula (third place) and Julia Landau (second place and Kraak grant winner).

‘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 greys 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.’—Rehana Rossouw, head judge

About Scatterlings 

The novel is set over a hundred years ago, and chronicles a tale of migrancy very different to what we have come to expect in African literature. It incorporates myth and ritual, and the stories of extraordinary, ordinary women. What Scatterlings illustrates is that it is possible to write what you know without limiting yourself to your own actual, physical, lived experience.

About the author

Rešoketšwe Manenzhe is a PhD student and lecturer at the University of Cape Town. She is also an engineer who primarily works in the mining sphere. Manenzhe is no stranger to writing. In 2019, she won the Writivism Short Story Prize, and has also had a few of her short stories and poems published in journals such as the Kalahari Review and the Sol Plaatje European Union Anthology.

About the prize

For the past fifteen years, first as the European Union Literary Award and now as The Dinaane Debut Fiction Award, this prize has unearthed new literary talent within southern African countries. 2019’s winner was The Mourning Bird by Zambian author Mubanga Kalimamukwento.

Entries for the 2021 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award will open in May 2020.

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