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Rehana Rossouw and her novel New Times. Image from The Johannesburg Review of Books.

The University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African Writing in English have released their 2017/18 shortlists. The six selected books are split between the R75,000 Main Prize and the R30,000 Debut Prize.

Founded in 2006, the University of Johannesburg Prizes, also known as the UJ Prizes, are given annually for “the best original creative work in English published in the previous calendar year.” The judges are drawn from the Department of English at the University of Johannesburg, to whom are added “two academics from other universities and one member of the media or publishing industry.” The prizes do not separate genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and biography are shortlisted alongside each other.

The six books on the 2017/18 shortlists are made up of five novels and one memoir—Sara-Jayne King’s Killing Karoline.

Fred Khumalo and his novel Dancing the Death Drill. Image from The Johannesburg Review of Books.

Main Prize

  • Dancing the Death Drill by Fred Khumalo
  • Bird-Monk Seding by Lesego Rampolokeng
  • New Times by Rehana Rossouw
  • The Inside-Out Man by Fred Strydom

Debut Prize

  • Grace by Barbara Boswell
  • Killing Karoline by Sara-Jayne King

This year’s judges are: Sikhumbuzo Mngadi, Ronit Frenkel, Danyela Demir, Bridget Grogan, Nyasha Mboti, and Thabo Tsehloane from the University of Johannesburg; and Rebecca Fasselt from the University of Pretoria. They made the selections from around sixty submissions.

Last year’s winners were Nthikeng Mohlele for Pleasure and Mohale Mashigo for The Yearning, chosen from a shortlist of seven books. Winners from previous years include Zakes Mda, Lauren Beukes, Craig Higginson, Eliza Kentridge, Nkosinathi Sithole, Penny Busetto, Dominique Botha, Ken Barris, and Steven Boykey Sidley.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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