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M-NET BOOK PRIZE (article first published : 2003-03-17)

Books of outstanding literary quality have been streaming in since the announcement of the 2002/3 M-Net Book Prize competition in November 2002, resulting in a total of 19 African language and seven Afrikaans novels. This is a great improvement compared to the 2001 leg of the competition, which saw only ten novels competing in the African language categories.

This year, TshiVenda is leading the pack with six novels followed by the Nguni category with five IsiZulu entries. IsiXhosa and IsiNdebele receive one entry each. The SeSotho category has two Sepedi entries and two Southern SeSotho entries, while Xitsonga has two.

This response from novelists across the country confirms the 12-year-old M-Net Book Prize’s stature as South Africa’s leading literary award, rewarding high-quality published novels.

The aim of the M-Net Book Prize is to encourage the publication of original works in the indigenous languages of South Africa and contribute to promoting the use – and nurture – of previously marginalized indigenous languages.

In November 2002, M-Net announced the M-Net Book Prize’s merger with the long running Nasboek Literary Awards which saw the pay channel shifting its sponsorship to focus only on the African language category, while its DStv channel kykNET is the main sponsor of the Afrikaans language award entitled Die kykNET Jongskrywersprys.

M-Net’s commitment to the Book Prize awards is in recognition of the crucial role that literature plays in the development of a culture of reading and thereby increasing literacy in South Africa. The number of entries we got from African language novelists and publishers this year has superseded our expectations, and we hope this will encourage many more writers of indigenous languages to get their work published," says M-Net CEO Glen Marques.

M-Net will be awarding a total of R100,000 in cash prizes – R20,000 per category – to the five winning novelists. These will be announced in a joint function with Nasboek Literary Awards to be held in Cape Town on June 19.




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