The shortlist for the 2023 University of Johannesburg (UJ) Prizes for South African Writing in English is out. 4 out of the 6 shortlisted works are novels, with a poetry collection and memoir also in the mix.

The UJ Prizes were established in 2006 and awarded to South African writers publishing in the English language. It is awarded in two categories: the Main Prize worth R70,000, and the Debut Prize valued at R35,000. Previous winners include Mandla Langa, Lisa-Anne Julien, Gabeba Baderoon, and Zakes Mda, among others.

Although the UJ Prizes are not tied to a specific genre, this year’s shortlist is definitely slanted more toward the novel. Check out the stunning shortlist below:

Debut Prize

Boy on the Run (memoir) by Welcome Mandla Lishivha

The Other Me (novel) by Joy Watson

Things My Mother Left Me (novel) by Pulane Mpondo

Main Prize

An Angel’s Demise (novel) by Sue Nyathi

Greyheart (poetry) by Lesego Rampolokeng

How to Be a Revolutionary (novel) by CA Davids

This year’s panel of judges was drawn from three South African universities and include the chair UJ Professor Ronit Frenkel, UJ Professor Sikhumbuzo Mngadi, UJ Professor Nedine Moonsamy, UJ’s Dr. Thabo Tšehloane, Wits University Professor Grace Musila, University of Pretoria’s Dr. Rebecca Fasselt, and UJ Professor Marzia Milazzo.

The judges selected these six titles from more than 100 submissions. According to prize coordinator Dr Siphiwo Mahala, UJ received a record number of entries this year and the decision-making process was rigorous.

Professor Frenkel, chairperson of judges and Head of the English Department at the University of Johannesburg, remarked, “The overwhelming response to the prize is indicative of the growth and diversity of South African writing.”

The winners will be announced on September 14. Stay tuned!

Congrats to the shortlisted writers!