The shortlists for the University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African Writing in English have been announced.
The 2021 edition of the prize celebrates works published in 2020.
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 Main Prize winner will receive R70,000, while the UJ Debut Prize comes with R35,000.
Approximately sixty works were submitted this year.
2021 UJ Main Prize shortlist
2021 UJ Debut Prize shortlist
- Rešoketšwe Manenzhe, Scatterlings
- Lindiwe Nkutha, 69 Jerusalem Street
- Jamil F Khan, Khamr: The Making of a Waterslams
The adjudication panel comprised the following judges:
- Sikhumbuzo Mngadi (chair)
- Ronit Frenkel (coordinator)
- Thabo Tsehloane
- Minesh Dass
- Rebecca Fasselt
There was no prize awarded in 2020. In 2019, Gabeba Baderoon won the Main Prize for her book of poems The History of Intimacy, and Mphuthumi Ntabeni was awarded the Debut Prize for his novel The Broken River Tent.
This year, the University of Johannesburg also introduced a series of new prizes, for creative writing in Sesotho sa Leboa and isiZulu and for Literary Translation. The winners were announced in September.
The winner of the 2021 UJ Main Prize for Creative Writing in isiZulu, with a monetary value of R70,000, was EDM Sibiya for the poetry anthology entitled Isibusiso Nezinyembezi (‘Blessings and Tears’).
The 2021 UJ Debut Prize for Creative Writing in isiZulu, with a monetary value of R35,000, went to Umbusiseni Bhenya for the drama UGovana kaGovana (‘Discontentment’).
The winner of the 2021 UJ Main Prize for Sesotho sa Leboa, with a prize value of R70,000, was Kobate John Sekele for Madimabe a Lešoko (‘The heartache that comes with having children sometimes’). No prize was awarded in the Debut category.
The 2021 UJ Prize for Literary Translation, with a prize value of R50,000, was awarded to Michiel Heyns for his translation of Buys by Willem Anker as Red Dog in English.
And finally, the 2021 UJ Literary Prize for the Translation of Youth Texts, with a prize value of R35,000, was awarded to Nathan Trantraal for the translation of Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds as Lang Pad Onnetoe.