The Department of Afrikaans at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) recently announced its shortlists for the prestigious UJ prizes, which are awarded annually in two categories: the UJ prize and the UJ debut prize, and across the boundaries of genres.
A total of 49 books were eligible for the UJ prize, and finally Antjie Krog’s Plunder (Human & Rousseau), Johan Myburg’s Ship of fools (Protea Book House), Loit Sōls’ Moor steel (Kwela), and Kirby van der Merwe’s Eugene (Human & Rousseau) made the shortlist.
Almost half of the books considered were poetry represented by collections of poems. Other entries that were also considered were 21 novels, 3 non-fiction texts (including Dan Sleigh’s magisterial adaptation and update of the Van Steelant journal from 1713), 2 collections of short stories (one of which is a collection of love stories by different authors), 2 volumes columns or sketches (Tom Dreyer’s Kodachrome en Chase Rhys Misfits), 2 memoirs (Herman Lategan se whore child en Zarine Roodt se A day trip away), and 2 dramas (Wessel Pretorius se ont- and Philip Rademeyer’s Bump up).
From the 13 debut works that competed, 4 books made the shortlist for the 2023 UJ Debut Prize. These books are bottleneck breaks mouth by Dianne Du Toit Albertze (Human & Rousseau), The human zoo by Francois Durand (Naledi), If the kittiwake blooms by Audrey Jantjies (Kwela), and Bot by Carien Smith (Table Mountain).
According to prof. Karen de Wet, chairman of the UJ prizes for Afrikaans, it is worth noting that just over half of the debuts entered are poetry collections. None of them were published by so-called established mainstream publishers. Three collections of poetry have been published by Minimal Press, two by Turksvy Publications, one by Imprimatur and one by Naledi. The other half of the debut entries received are three novels, two short story collections, and one non-fiction.
The judges for the 2023 UJ prizes for Afrikaans were Dr. Bibi Burger (UK), Ronelda Kampfer, dr. Amanda Marais (US), Ryan Pedro and De Wet (UJ).
Since 2000, the UJ prizes for Afrikaans have been awarded annually to authors of exceptional Afrikaans books. The UJ prizes take Afrikaans books from the previous calendar year into account and like to single out titles that challenge literary style, conventions or themes, books that captivate and surprise. Titles from any genre come up against each other. Where the UJ prize is an open category, the UJ debut prize is earmarked specifically for debut work in Afrikaans.
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