The Book Show: Sunday Times Book Awards shortlist

In this Book Show, Jenny Crwys-Williams looks at the books that form part of The Sunday Times Book Awards shortlist - winners to be announced on the 27th June 2015.

There are two major awards: the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, now in its 26th year, and the Barry Ronge Fiction Award (in its 15th year). The winner of both categories gets a whopping R100,000 for their efforts- it has just been put up and it has to be hugely welcome for any writer.

Barry Ronge Award Fiction:

Tales of the Metric System by Imraan Coovadia (Umuzi Publishers)

Paper**back: R257.00 (Exclusive Books) eBook: **R189.00 (Exclusive Books)

Imraan Coovadia has won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize before - will he be able to do it again? He’s written fiction and non-fiction [but what Jenny loves about him most is that his favourite small word is “but” …

Tales of the Metric System shows how ten days spread across four decades send tidal waves through the lives of ordinary and extraordinary South Africans alike.

The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga (Umuzi Publishers)

Paper**back: R185.00 (Exclusive Books) eBook: **R131.00 (Exclusive Books)

There’s a lot of talk about this book, the author’s first. It’ already attracted attention in both the USA and Germany and I expect other countries will begin sniffing around. It’s set in a drug ravaged Cape Town and the Eastern Cape.

In a city that has lost its shimmer, Lindanathi and his two friends Ruan and Cecelia sell illegal pharmaceuticals while chasing their next high.

Lindanathi, deeply troubled by his hand in his brother's death, has turned his back on his family, until a message from home reminds him of a promise he made years before. When a puzzling masked man enters their lives, Lindanathi is faced with a decision: continue his life in Cape Town, or return to his family and to all he has left behind.

Rendered in lyrical, bright prose and set in a not-so-new South Africa, The Reactive is a poignant, life-affirming story about secrets, memory, chemical abuse and family, and the redemption that comes from facing what haunts us most.

Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut (Umuzi Publishers)

Paper**back: R185.00 (Exclusive Books) eBook: **R150.00 (Exclusive Books)

In this literary tour de force, twice Booker shortlisted novelist Damon Galgut evokes the life and work of EM Forster, his travels to India, and the freedom and inspiration he found there. In 1912, the SS Birmingham approaches India. On board is Morgan Forster, novelist and man of letters, who is embarking on a journey of discovery.

As Morgan stands on deck, the promise of a strange new future begins to take shape before his eyes. The seeds of a story start to gather at the corner of his mind: a sense of impending menace, lust in close confines, under a hot, empty sky. It will be another twelve years, and a second time spent in India, before A Passage to India, EM Forster's great work of literature, is published.

Other authors on the list:

  • October by Zoe Wicomb (Umuzi)
  • The Savage Hour by Elaine Proctor (Quercus Publishing)

Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction:

Lost and Found in Johannesburg by Mark Gevisser (Jonathan Ball)

Paper**back: R236.00 (Exclusive Books) eBook: **R170.00 (Exclusive Books)

Lost and Found in Johannesburg begins with a transgression--the armed invasion of a private home in a suburb of the South African city in which Mark Gevisser was born and raised.

As a child growing up in apartheid South Africa, Gevisser becomes obsessed with a street guide called Holmden's Register of Johannesburg, which literally erases entire black townships. Johannesburg, he soon understands, is full of divisions between black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight; a place that, as he puts it, "draws its energy precisely from its atomization and its edge, its stacking of boundaries against one another." Here, Gevisser embarks on a quest to understand the inner life of the city of his birth.

Gevisser uses maps, family photographs, shards of memory, newspaper clippings, and courtroom testimony to chart his intimate history of Johannesburg

Other authors on the list:

Listen to the full conversation below:


This article first appeared on 702 : The Book Show: Sunday Times Book Awards shortlist


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