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Panashe Chigumadzi.

Sunday Times newspaper has announced the longlists for the Alan Paton Award and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

Founded in 1989, “as Apartheid began to crumble,” the Alan Paton Award is in its 30th year. It recognizes a book that offers “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power,” and that shows “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity.” The prize was created to suggest “both a tribute and a hope. The tribute is to Alan Paton, one of SA’s great sons, while the hope is that the prize will encourage writers in SA to pursue the same standards of excellence and commitment which Paton set for himself.”

On the longlist is Panashe Chigumadzi, winner of the 2018 Brittle Paper Award for Essays, selected for These Bones Will Rise Again, her account of the fall of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.


Heist! South Africa’s Cash-in-Transit Epidemic Uncovered
Anneliese Burgess (Penguin Random House)

My Father Died for This
Lukhanyo and Abigail Calata (Tafelberg)

Born in Chains: The Diary of an Angry “Born-Free”
Clinton Chauke (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

These Bones Will Rise Again
Panashe Chigumadzi (Jacana Media)

Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation: The Politics Behind the #mustfall Movements
Rekgotsofetse Chikane (Picador Africa)

Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a Brown Woman in a White South Africa
Haji Mohamed Dawjee (Penguin Random House)

Poacher: Confessions from the Abalone Underworld
Kimon de Greef and Shuhood Abader (Tafelberg)

Confronting Apartheid: A Personal History of South Africa, Namibia and Palestine
John Dugard (Jacana Media)

Brutal Legacy: A Memoir
Tracy Going (MF Books / Joburg)

Beaten But Not Broken
Vanessa Govender (Jacana Media)

Your People Will Be My People: The Ruth Khama Story
Sue Grant-Marshall (Protea Boekhuis)

The Café de Move-on Blues: In Search of the New South Africa
Christopher Hope (Penguin Random House)

Rainbow Nation My Zulu Arse: A Voyage Around Mzansi – Rants and Raves Included
Sihle Khumalo (Umuzi)

You Have to be Gay to Know God
Siya Khumalo (Kwela Books)

Everyone is Present
Terry Kurgan (Fourthwall Books)

Becoming Him: A Trans Memoir of Triumph
Landa Mabenge (MF Books / Joburg)

The Lost Boys of Bird Island: A Shocking Exposé from within the Heart of the NP Government
Mark Minnie and Chris Steyn (Tafelberg)

And Then Mama Said… Words that Set My Life Alight
Tumi Morake (Penguin Random House)

Born to Kwaito: Reflections on the Kwaito Generation
Esinako Ndabeni and Sihle Mthembu (Blackbird Books)

Imprisoned: The Experience of a Prisoner Under Apartheid
Sylvia Neame (Jacana Media)

The Land is Ours: South Africa’s First Black Lawyers and the Birth of Constitutionalism 
Tembeka Ngcukaitobi (Penguin Random House)

Louis Botha: A Man Apart
Richard Steyn (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

I Beg to Differ: Ministry Amid the Teargas 
Peter Storey (Tafelberg)

The Echo of a Noise: A Memoir of Then and Now 
Pieter-Dirk Uys (Tafelberg)

Ministry of Crime: An Underworld Explored
Mandy Wiener (Pan Macmillan)

“If there is truth in the assertion that catharsis is the road to healing, then the annual Alan Paton longlist reflects a nation imbibing and dispensing some serious mass medicine,” commented the judges: Sylvia Vollenhoven, Paddi Clay, and Fortiscue Helepi. “The authors have explored aspects of SA as diverse as corruption, the land question, perlemoen poaching and spousal abuse. There are investigations into crime as well as into the history and significance of boer war generals or 20th century music trends.

“SA and Zimbabwe’s struggles for freedom are picked apart mercilessly. In the process the Rainbow Nation notion is left wounded, feared dead. We are no longer basking in the indulgent glow of a post-liberation society. The #fallist generation holds up unforgiving mirrors.

“About half of the authors are female. One young writer interrogates recent history from a female and spiritual perspective. Another young woman uses the minutiae of personal memorabilia to make the connection between family and global events. In this collection, our best contemporary authors are seeking solutions, answering complex questions and proposing new ways of looking at the road we have travelled.”


Sylvia Vollenhoven—Chair

Vollenhoven is a writer, journalist, and filmmaker whose work has won many awards including the 2016 Mbokodo Award for Literature and the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in the Arts. Vollenhoven was the SA producer for the BBC mini-series Mandela the Living Legend, and is also a Knight Fellow, funded by the John S and James L Knight Foundation with additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Paddi Clay

Clay has more than 40 years of experience in the media, covering radio, print, and online journalism. She has a BA Degree in English and Drama from UCT and an MA in Journalism Leadership from the University of Central Lancashire, UK. Clay has reported for the Rand Daily Mail and Capital Radio, and wrote for the FT and US News and World Report. A life-long campaigner for freedom of expression and a free, independent media, she spent 15 years as head of the Graduate Journalism Training Programme at what is now Tiso Blackstar and retired in January 2017. She continues to coach and lecture.

Fortiscue Helepi

Helepi is the co-owner of African Flavour Books, an independent bookstore in Vanderbijlpark in the Vaal Triangle. Helepi, who has a degree in chemical engineering from UCT, worked at a petrochemical company for more than 15 years. It was his passion for African literature that drove him and his wife, Nokuthula, to start African Flavour Books in 2015. His focus is to grow the bookstore beyond its walls to be a vehicle  for showcasing local talent and developing it.

Brittle Paper congratulates the 25 longlisted authors.  

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young 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 attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies. He taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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