South Africa: SA Book Awards Announces 2021 Shortlists

In News by Porter Anderson

The 21st edition of the SA Book Awards has a three-category shortlist of four titles each, bestsellers voted on by the market’s booksellers.

Lining up for inoculations on July 15 at Cape Town’s International Convention Centre. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Hein Stirred

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Awards-a-Rama in Full Force
It’s that scene in the film in which the avalanche is bearing down on our protagonists–down the ski slopes or, in case you’re a cycling enthusiast, down the road in the Alpine valley. New notices of publishing and book awards’ shortlists, longlists, and winners arrive daily now.

Being Publishing Perspectives rather than Awards Perspectives, we’re pacing these news items for you to keep them from eclipsing all else. That means that we have a backlog now of at least 10 awards stories waiting to be covered. We’ll get to them as we can, and our thanks to all sending them. (As we say in this business, they’ll still be shortlisted tomorrow, right?)

Today, let’s look at the South Africa Book Awards, the shortlist of which has been announced today (September 23). The SA Book Awards, as they’re known, recognize books written and published in South Africa, as voted for by South African booksellers. As you may remember, Trevor Noah was last year’s winner for his young-readers edition of  Trevor Noah: Born a Crime (Penguin Random House).

The South African program, now in its 21st year, is “powered by” Nielsen, which is seated in London, of course, and operates an extensive service in South Africa as one of its international venues. In the awards program, Nielsen has the support of the Publishers Association of South Africa and the South Africa Booksellers Association. Booksellers do the voting in this case, on titles that Nielsen identifies as bestsellers.

There are three categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, and Children’s.

Each category winner receives 5,000 rand (US$341). An overall winner—who receives the highest number of votes—is presented with 20,000 rand (US$1,364).

SA Book Awards Shortlist 2021: Adult Fiction

  • Critical But, Stable by Angela Makholwa
  • Donkerdrif by Deon Meyer
  • Bare III: Ego by Jackie Phamotse
  • Hans Gee Herklaas Horings by Rudie van Rensburg
SA Book Awards Shortlist 2021: Adult Nonfiction

  • Manage your Money Like A Grownup by Sam Beckbessinger
  • Autopsy by Ryan Blumenthal
  • Six Years With Al Qaeda by Stephen McGown
  • All Rise by Dikgang Moseneke
SA Book Awards Shortlist 2021: Children’s Books

  • Melo’s Kingdom by Thuli Madonsela
  • How Many Ways Can You Say Hello? by Refiloe Moahloli
  • We Are One by Refiloe Moahloli
  • I Have Brown Skin And Curly Hair by Karen Theunissen

The winners of this year’s program are to be announced in a digital event in October on a date not yet announced.

The Coronavirus in South Africa

The nation continues to struggle, only 14.05 percent of its population as yet having been vaccinated, according to the 6:21 a.m. ET (1021 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center dashboard. The report sees 2,889,298 cases in South Africa’s population of 58.6 million, with 86,500 fatalities.

Reuters Johannesburg reported on September 12 that the country was easing COVID-19 restrictions and shortening the nationwide curfew, in light of a decline in cases. At its peak, the country was seeing around 26,500 new cases daily in early July.

And at Bloomberg, Antony Sguazzin writes, “Africa is the world’s least vaccinated continent and it has also been the origin of a number of coronavirus variants: the beta mutation found in South Africa, eta from Nigeria and most recently C.1.2, again from South Africa. Now, scientists say they have found a possible reason. Africa is also home to the most immunocompromised people.”

Scientists are realizing that the high presence of HIV in the population, Sguazzin is writing, has rendered the population especially vulnerable to infection and mutation. “A study of an HIV-positive woman in South Africa showed that she harbored the coronavirus for 216 days, during which time it mutated considerably. In fact, 30 times, Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatics professor who runs gene-sequencing institutions at two South African universities, said at an immunology conference,” Sguazzin reports.

More from Publishing Perspectives on South Africa is here, more from us on publishing and book awards is here, and more on Nielsen is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.