South African writer Jeffrey Rakabe landed a publishing deal with Jacana Media for his debut memoir The Women Brought Books.

This is part of Jacana Literary Foundation (JLF)’s third season of From Pitch to Publication, an initiative aimed at providing a platform for emerging writers to showcase their work to industry professionals. Hosted on March 25 at the JLF offices, From Pitch to Publication serves as a champion for unrecognized works, allowing hidden treasures to be unearthed.

This season, the JLF was captivated by 13 intriguing manuscripts, accompanied by a 10-minute, in-person pitches, each sparking lively discussions among the judging panel. The panel of judges included Sewela Langeni, Jennifer Platt, Griffin Shea, Dr Alma-Nalisha Cele, and Jacana Media’s publishing directors, Bridget Impey and Maggie Davey.

Rakabe won a publishing deal for his memoir The Women Brought Books, which follows the journey of a young man who undergoes traditional male circumcision, viewing it as a rite of passage into manhood. However, he later discovers its potential link to gender-based violence against women in South Africa. Through reading and reflection, supported by the guidance of two influential women in his life, he uncovers the complex connections between initiation rituals and the widespread epidemic of gender-based violence. The young man ultimately advocates for gender interdependence.

In addition, Michelle Kekana has been chosen for a 3-month mentorship program with South African journalist and author Rehana Rossouw. This mentorship will offer Michelle the opportunity to take her manuscript, The Fragile Mental Health of Strong Women, to the next level.

Congrats to Rakabe and Kekana!