Etisalat 2015 Prize-winners for Fiction Published in 2014
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Penumbra (2014) Winner
by Songeziwe Mahlangu
Maybe Mfundo shot me that night. This is all a path to my place of rest. I am being shown my life and the things that happened to me. There was also the night I broke the window in my room. I felt trapped. I tried opening the door, but couldn’t. I was woken by Tongai mumbling that I would not be able to go anywhere. Next, I was pushing on the window. Tongai later told me that I suffer from night terrors. Perhaps I threw Tongai out of the window that night. And the guilt made me shut the truth away. Tongai is dead. I killed him a long time ago. Such a decent guy, who never wanted to harm anyone; I murdered him. It is this sin that is eating me up. Mangaliso Zolo lives in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, near the university. He has an office job at a large corporate, but he does little every day bar shuffle papers and surf the ’net. Penumbra charts Manga’s daily struggles with the twin pull, from friends and acquaintances, of reckless living or charismatic Christianity. A very different Cape Town comes to life – far removed from both the gloss of tourism brochures or the familiar poverty of the Flats – and a certain dissolute South African reality is dissected with haunting precision.
Happiness, Like Water: Stories (2014) shortlisted
by Chinelo Okparanta
In this brave debut collection, Chinelo Okparanta introduces us to families burdened equally by the past and the future. High expectations - whether of success in Nigeria, or the dream of opportunity and accomplishment in America - consume them.
This is deceptive, for the plots in Happiness, Like Water are heated where the prose is not. A woman waits with a gun pointed at her head as a thief commands her husband to hand over his beloved Peugeot, suddenly aware that the car is worth more to her husband than her life; a spinster plans to murder a pregnant friend and steal her unborn child; a virginal college student, desperate to send her ailing mother to a private hospital, agrees to go out with a rich “patron,” deluding herself that all he wants is a pretty date who can “discuss budget and political issues.”
An Imperfect Blessing (2014) shortlisted
by Nadia Davids
It is 1993. South Africa is on the brink of total transformation and in Walmer Estate, a busy suburb on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, fourteen-year-old Alia Dawood is about to undergo a transformation of her own. She watches with fascination and fear as the national drama unfolds, longing to be a part of what she knows to be history in the making. As her revolutionary aspirations strengthen in the months before the elections, her intense, radical Uncle Waleed reappears, forcing her parents and sister Nasreen to confront his subversive and dangerous past. Nadia David’s first novel moves across generations and communities, through the suburbs to the city centre, from the lush gardens of private schools to the dingy bars of Observatory, from landmark mosques and churches to the manic procession of the Cape Carnival, through evictions, rebellions, political assassinations and first loves. The book places one family’s story at the heart of a country’s rebirth and interrogates issues of faith, race, belonging and freedom. An Imperfect Blessing is a vibrant, funny and moving debut.
Etisalat 2014 Prize-winners for Fiction Published in 2013
We Need New Names by No-Violet Bulawayo (Winner)
Bom Boy by Yewande Omotoso
Finding Soutbek by Karen Jennings