Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Five books have been named on the shortlist for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. They are: Bronwyn Law-Viljoen’s The Printmaker; Kopano Matlwa’s Period Pain; Zakes Mda’s Little Suns; Yewande Omotoso’s Baileys Prize-longlisted The Woman Next Door; and Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know. 

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize is awarded as part of the Sunday Times Literary Awards, in association with Porcupine Ridge. Its twin prize is the Alan Paton Award for Nonfiction. The winner goes home with R100,000.

Books Live calls the shortlist “writing of rare style and imagination, stories that chose the personal over the political, and themes that are fresh and provocative.” The chair of the judges, Rehana Rossouw, describes the books as “words strike at the reader’s heart.”

Here are the five books, with their accompanying synopses from their publishers.

*

The Printmaker, Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (Umuzi)

When a reclusive printmaker dies, his friend inherits the thousands of etchings and drawings he has stored in his house over the years. Overwhelmed by the task of sorting and exhibiting this work, she seeks the advice of a curator.
What compulsion drove the printmaker to make art for four decades, and why did he so seldom show his prints?
 When the curator discovers a single, sealed box addressed to a man in Zimbabwe, she feels compelled to go in search of him to present him with the package, hoping to find an answer to the enigma of the printmaker’s solitary life.
Bronwyn Law-Viljoen’s subtle and sophisticated novel reflects on one man’s obsessive need to make meaning through images and to find, in art, the traces of love and friendship.

Period Pain, Kopano Matlwa (Jacana Media)

Period Pain captures the heartache and confusion of so many South Africans who feel defeated by the litany of headline horrors; xenophobia, corrective rape, corruption and crime and for many the death sentence that is the public health nightmare. Where are we going, what have we become? Period Pain helps us navigate our South Africa. We meet Masechaba, and through her story we are able to reflect, to question and to rediscover our humanity.

 

 

Little Suns, Zakes Mda (Umuzi)

‘There are many suns,’ he said. ‘Each day has its own. Some are small, some are big. I’m named after the small ones.’
It is 1903. A lame and frail Malangana – ‘Little Suns’ – searches for his beloved Mthwakazi after many lonely years spent in Lesotho. Mthwakazi was the young woman he had fallen in love with twenty years earlier, before the assassination of Hamilton Hope ripped the two of them apart.
Intertwined with Malangana’s story, is the account of Hope – a colonial magistrate who, in the late nineteenth century, was undermining the local kingdoms of the eastern Cape in order to bring them under the control of the British. It was he who wanted to coerce Malangana’s king and his people, the amaMpondomise, into joining his battle – a scheme Malangana’s conscience could not allow.
Zakes Mda’s fine new novel Little Suns weaves the true events surrounding the death of Magistrate Hope into a touching story of love and perseverance that can transcend exile and strife.

The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso (Chatto & Windus)

Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility and pruning both with a vim and zeal that belies the fact that they are over eighty.

But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. And gradually the bickering and sniping softens into lively debate, and from there into memories shared. But could these sparks of connection ever transform into friendship? Or is it too late to expect these two to change?

The Safest Place You Know, Mark Winkler (Umuzi)

After his father’s violent death on a hot November day in the drought-stricken Free State, a young man leaves the derelict family farm with no plan, and with no way of knowing that his life will soon be changed for ever by two strangers he encounters on his journey south: a mute little girl who bears a striking resemblance to his late niece, and a troubled lawyer who detests the Cape wine estate she’s inherited from a father she despised.
Set in South Africa against the backdrop of a country in flux, The Safest Place You Know is a powerful story, rendered in meticulously crafted, lyrical prose, about redemption and recovery, and what it means to carry the past with you.

*

Congratulations to the five authors. The winner will be announced on 24 June.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

OTOSIRIEZE is a writer, literary journalist, former academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. A judge for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award, he is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective which has published two volumes: WE ARE FLOWERS and THE INWARD GAZE. He is the curator of ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness: ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016) focuses on cities in Nigeria; WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017) focuses on professions in Nigeria. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the Gerald Kraak Award, both in 2016, and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts editing and writing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Teju Cole Joins Harvard’s Department of English as Gore Vidal Professor of Creative Writing

teju cole sydney morning herald

Teju Cole has joined Harvard University’s Department of English as the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing. […]

Always Another Country | Sisonke Msimang’s North America Book Tour

sisonke msimang

Last October, Sisonke Msimang’s debut memoir Always Another Country was published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in South Africa. The account of […]

Chimamanda Adichie Adds Her Voice to Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis

anglophone crisis - image from actu cameroun

Chimamanda Adichie has added her voice to Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis, following efforts by Cameroonian novelists Imbolo Mbue and Patrice Nganang. […]

Deji Olukotun’s Novels, Nigerians In Space and After The Flare, Optioned by Major Film Company

Image from ASU Events.

Deji Olukotun’s novels Nigerians in Space and After the Flare have been optioned by major film company. The crime novelist shared this […]

Petina Gappah Is Working on a Rhodesia Trilogy Comprising a Comedy, a Tragedy, and an Epic

petina gappah

Petina Gappah is working on a series, what she calls the Rhodesia Trilogy. The Zimbabwean writer and novelist, whose short […]

Nnedi Okorafor Announces New Project Due in December, Set in the Universe of Binti and Lagoon

Nnedi okorafor - la guardia

Fresh from her trending appearance at the Emmys with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martins, Nnedi Okorafor has announced […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.