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EU LITERARY AWARD (article first published : 2004-12-22)

Jacana Publishers received an overwhelming number of submissions--116 manuscripts in total--for the EU Literary Award.

The jury has been impressed with the general quality of the work and has described the five short-listed titles as “exceptional”. Among the five authors shortlisted is former Durban playwright and director Ronnie Govender, now living in Cape Town, for his Song of the Atman. The other four authors are Alvaro Konrad (Sound Bite); Ishtiyak Shukri (The Silent Minaret); Kirsten Miller (All is Fish) and Cynthia Kros (Therapy).

Ben Oswest’s The New Suffolk Hymnbook and Frederick Khumalo’s The Oneness of Two in Three have received honorable mentions from the judges.

"We’ve had some exciting surprises and interesting experimental texts popping up. There have been a range of genres, which include standard South African realism novels to romances, crime and detective thrillers,” said Maggie Davey, jury member and publishing director for Jacana Media. “There are historical novels—about immigrants, settlers, slaves, ancient kingdoms and the Boer War—and a lot of fictionalized memoirs, written by both women and men.

“We’ve received books about gangs, violent crime and the ‘lost generation’, tales of abuse and pastoral fantasies. There have been several witty and gung-ho travel narratives—but generally we have found humour and sex lacking in the writing. We were pleasantly surprised with the number of texts dealing with changing realities and personal conflicts within Muslim culture in South Africa and globally."

The winners and runners-up will be announced early next year.

The Embassies and High Commissions of the countries of the European Union in South Africa launched the award at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year. The award consists of a monetary award of R25,000, publication of the novel by Jacana and a trip to the Winternachtenfestival in the Netherlands.

Nadine Gordimer is the chair of the jury of this prestigious award. Other well-known members of the jury are Professor Andries Oliphant (UNISA), Professor Kole Omotoso (writer and lecturer), Maggie Davey, radio critic Alan Swerdlow, former ThisDay book editor Alex Dodd, as well as Dutch book critic Fred de Vries.

Nadine Gordimer, chair of the jury, and Frans Engering, Netherlands Ambassador, will present the award on January 27, 2005, at a literary evening at the Goethe Institut in Johannesburg. The winning book will be launched at the Time of the Writer festival in Durban in April 2005.

This project is supported by The Royal Netherlands Embassy, The Goethe Institut, The French Embassy/IFAS, The British Council, Jacana Publishers and Safm.

For more detail see www.jacana.co.za, or contact Amanda Thoane on 011-274 6611.




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