C.A. Davids, Pulane Mlilo Mpondo win University of Johannesburg Writing Awards 2023.

C.A. Davids, Pulane Mlilo Mpondo win University of Johannesburg Writing Awards 2023.

C.A. Davids and Pulane Mlilo Mpondo were declared winners of the University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African Writing in English 2023 on Monday, September 11, 2023.

The University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African Writing in English, also known as the UJ Prize, were instituted in 2006. It comprises a main prize and a debut prize, given annually for “the best original creative work in English published in the previous calendar year”. They are judged by a panel of four members of the Department of English at the University of Johannesburg, two academics from other universities, and one member of the media or publishing industry. The prizes are not linked to a specific genre. Some of the previous winners have been Nthikeng Mohlele and Mohale Mashigo; Gabeba Baderoon and Mphuthumi Ntabeni. In 2021, the awards went to Jacob Dlamini, Jamil F Khan, and Rešoketšwe Manenzhe while last year Mandla Langa, A’Eysha Kassiem, and Lisa-Anne Julien got the honours.

For 2023, the shortlists in the two categories were made public on August 8 before the winners were revealed to be;

University of Johannesburg Main Prize (R75,000)

  • How To Be A Revolutionary, CA Davids

Prof. Ronit Frenkel, Head of the English Department at the University of Johannesburg and Chair of the UJ Prize judging panel said about the winning entry, “How to be a Revolutionary by C.A. Davids is an extraordinary book that grapples with the failures of a revolution only partly realised. Davids’ novel links three narratives – that of Beth, a South African former anti-apartheid activist and current diplomat in China, her neighbour Zhao, a former communist party adherent, and the fictionalised letters of Langston Hughes in the 1950s. This is a novel of important questions, lived ambiguities, and a finely crafted novel that reflects an author at her peak.”

University of Johannesburg Debut Prize (R35,000)

  • Things My Mother Left Me, Pulane Mlilo Mpondo

Prof. Nedine Moonsamy, one of the judges of the UJ Prize, remarked, “Both stylistically experimental and lyrically punctuated, Pulane Mlilo Mpondo’s debut novel, Things My Mother Left Me, is a poetic force. Mpondo weaves women’s lives together, marking the existential horror and the communal enfolding of their contemporary existence. In this novel, South African life breaks open on various planes; the spiritual, the visual, the poetic and the humorous all reach us as a gratifying and seamless narrative flow.”

The prizes will be awarded in a ceremony to be held at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday, 14 September 2023.

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