SA Literary Awards recognition for first-time author
First-time writer Sihle Bolani is among the authors shortlisted for the 2020 SA Literary Awards, alongside popular comedian Trevor Noah.
Her book We Are The Ones We Need is a memoir of her turbulent years as a young black professional in a corporate South Africa that was heavily biased in favour of whites.
Noah’s Born A Crime has been a hit with readers since it was first published.
Celebrating 15 years of growth and exhilarating success, organisers announced the shortlist of nominees last week.
Responding to the nomination, Bolani said: “Being an award-nominated author is exciting and surreal. It’s certainly outside of the scope of what I dreamt about when I was young.
“The thrill for me is in knowing that our voices, black voices, black women’s voices, our stories are being seen, read, shared and celebrated.
“Winning the award would be a win for every single person who has seen themselves in the words I have written, an affirmation of the validity of our collective pain and celebration of our collective hopes for the future we deserve.”
The list of nominees reflects the transformative nature, not only of the SA Literary Awards, but the country’s literary community.
The potpourri nature of the country provides a canvas on which writers manage to paint beautiful pictures without needing to look over their shoulders.
The winners were announced at a celebratory awards ceremony held virtually on November 7, International African Writers’ Day.
The awards were founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Morakabe and Sindiswa Seakhoa of the wRite associates, in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, as a platform to honour authors, translators, poets and other literary practitioners who have made and continue to make a contribution in the South African literary landscape.
Many luminaries have been honoured over the last 14 years, among them current National Poet Laureate Professor Mongane Wally Serote; late Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer; multi-award-winning novelist Kgebetli Moele; literary journalists Phakama Mbonambi, Bongani Madondo and Sabata-Mpho Mokae; poet Kobus Moolman; book critics Karabo Kgoleng and Jenny Crwys-Williams; activist, poet and author Ambassador Lindiwe Mabuza; short story writers Makhosazana Xaba and Reneilwe Malatji; scholars and prolific writers Zakes Mda, Njabulo Ndebele, Mbulelo Mzamane, Ashraf Kagee, Nhlanhla Maake, Imraan Coovadia; as well as the late translator, poet, novelist and children’s writer Chris van Wyk and Lebohang Masango (also a children’s author).
The awards honour writing and writers in all official languages across 14 categories.
One of the awards – the K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award – is a celebration of one of the country’s most prolific authors of his generation, K Sello Duiker.
Another is the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Literary Award, honouring thespians in the genre, across all languages.
Other awards include the:
1. National Poet Laureate Prize
2. Poetry Award
3. Literary Translators Award
4. Lifetime Achievement Literary Award
5. Posthumous Literary Award
6. Literary Journalism Award
7. Creative Non-Fiction Award
8. Chairperson’s Award
9. Children’s Literature Award
10. Youth Literature Award
11. Novel Award
As writers are given an equal opportunity to contest any of the awards’ categories, the winners over the years reflect that elevated state of South African literature, which has seen some of the local works adapted to screen and stage plays.