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Nathan Trantraal: Winner of the Philida Literary Award in 2023

Today, on the eighth anniversary of André Brink’s death, we pay tribute to his life and work and announce that the Philida Literary Award, established in his memory in 2020, goes to Nathan Trantraal and is awarded to him for an oeuvre of literary excellence.

Nathan Trantraal is the author of three poetry collections – Chokers en Survivors (2013), which won the 2014 AKTV Woordfees Prize and the 2015 Ingrid Jonker Prize; Alles Het Niet Kom Wôd (2017), which won a SALA award in 2019; and Oolog (2020) – as well as a volume of essays, Wit Issie ’n Colour Nie (2018). He translated Jason Reynolds’s Long Way Down into Kaaps (Lang Pad Onnetoe). He writes for television and theatre and has a biweekly column for Rapport called Sypaadjies.

Nathan also illustrated four graphic novels (Stormkaap, Coloureds, Crossroads and All Rise) and has worked as a cartoonist for the Cape Times (The Richenbaums), the Cape Argus (Urban Tribe) and Rapport (Ruthie). His comic art has been exhibited in Hamburg, Amsterdam and Cape Town. He currently works as an illustrator for Vrye Weekblad.

With his partner Ronelda S Kamfer, he worked on a series called “Portraits” for Vrye Weekblad about the ordinary lives of South Africans during the coronavirus pandemic. He is an editor reviewer and freelance book cover designer. His poetry has been translated into English, French and Modern Greek.

Nathan is currently teaching at Rhodes University’s MACW at the School of Languages and Literature, where his focus is Kaaps and the graphic novel.

Nathan Trantraal on accepting the Philida Literary Award: “I am grateful and honoured. My thanks to all the judges.”

2013 Chokers en Survivors

2017 Alles Het Niet Kom Wôd

2018 Wit Issie ’n Colour Nie

2020 Oolog

The 2023 Philida Literary Award judges were Sally PartridgeKarina M. SzczurekLester Walbrugh and Christy Weyer.

LOLWE CLASSES: Experimental and Genre-bending Writing Masterclass with Mohale Mashigo | 30 April

“To break conventional forms with purpose, to create a work that resists categorisation while retaining its coherence, is one of the most tasking things in the literary world. Experimental and genre-bending writing is full of risks. In this masterclass, the author of the award-winning novel The Yearning will provide you with the literary devices necessary to experiment meaningfully with prose. The masterclass will cover how to break past the boundary of conventional writing forms, create works that defy easy genre classification, and circumvent hurdles that writing rules pose.”

Scholarships are available for this masterclass. For details, please see: LOLWE CLASSES

Chasing Marian, the novel co-written by Qarnita Loxton, Pamela Power, Amy Heydenrych and Gail Schimmel, is out from Pan Macmillan

Qarnita Loxton with her first copy of Chasing Marian, the novel she co-wrote with Amy Heydenrych, Pamela Power and Gail Schimmel.


Four strangers, two cities, one chance online meeting.

Jess is a yummy mummy of two whose life is slowly unravelling and who has recently separated from her husband. Ginger is a happily widowed granny with a salty tongue and a wicked sense of humour. The gorgeous and sensitive Matt is an almost-qualified psychologist, who still lives with his parents. And Queenie, a librarian from Cape Town, has an absent boyfriend and a secret writing habit.

What could these four strangers possibly have in common?

They are all die-hard Marian Keyes fans. And when they hear that Marian is due to visit South Africa to attend a literary festival, they are all desperate to meet her. Together they come up with a mad-cap plan. Will they succeed – or will life intervene?

Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes posted this delightful image on Twitter to celebrate the publication of the novel in which she features. It is wonderful to see these five authors connect across continents and celebrate stories and books despite all the lockdown challenges we have faced in the literary community over the last two years.

Mary Watson: Winner of the Philida Literary Award in 2022

Today, on the seventh anniversary of André Brink’s death, we pay tribute to his life and work and announce that the Philida Literary Award, established in his memory in 2020, goes to Mary Watson and is awarded to her for an oeuvre of literary excellence.

Mary Watson

Mary Watson is from Cape Town and now lives on the west coast of Ireland. She’s worked as an art museum guide, library assistant, theatre duty manager, and an actor in children’s musicals. She has a PhD from the University of Cape Town where she taught for many years. She won the Caine Prize in 2006 and writes short stories, contemporary fiction and young adult fantasy. The Wren Hunt (Bloomsbury, 2018), was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and her latest, Blood to Poison, is out in April 2022.

Mary Watson on accepting the Philida Literary Award: “I was thinking of André a little while earlier … How I never dreamed how incredibly supportive he’d be when I summoned up the nerve to pop those pages [of Moss] in his pigeon hole. So thank you so very much. I am truly, truly honoured.”

2004 Moss

2013 The Cutting Room

2018 The Wren Hunt

2019 The Wickerlight

‘I can honestly say that I have seldom, in South African literature, come across short stories of such suggestive power as these … Our literature will be the richer for accommodating a voice of this calibre, persuasive power and exquisite beauty.’

– André Brink about Moss

‘This novel is the work of someone who really knows what they’re doing, who knows how to use words to draw in and enchant her readers, and who has proven herself time and time again as a master storyteller.’

– Sally Partridge about The Wren Hunt

The 2022 Philida Literary Award judges were Sally Partridge, Karina M. Szczurek, Lester Walbrugh and Christy Weyer.

‘Up close with Cape Town-based author Qarnita Loxton’ – profile by Joy Watson

Her ‘Being’ series is reminiscent of ‘Sex and the City’, giving that same salubrious dose of feel-good endorphins that comes with a group of women who are there for each other through thick and thin.

Qarnita Loxton’s Being Dianne, launched in 2021, is the fourth book in a series about the lives of four feisty friends (Kari, Lily, Shelley and Dianne) – the stories of their loves and losses, and the way in which they have each other’s backs when the rubber hits the road. It is reminiscent of Sex and the City – giving that same salubrious dose of feel-good endorphins that comes with a group of women who are there for each other through thick and thin.

In Being Dianne, Dianne is struggling to navigate her relationship with her daughters, particularly the elder one, Kate, who has become withdrawn and seems to be harbouring a secret. Dianne’s first post-divorce relationship has fallen apart. She meets a younger woman, Faye, on Tinder. The prickly thing is that the only people who know that Dianne is bisexual are her friends in the awesome foursome group. And while Faye seems to be planning the wedding cake in her head, Dianne, on her side, is nowhere near ready to commit. 

The Being series started with Being Kari, which was published in 2017, a year after Loxton’s mother died. “It was a bit of a midlife crisis. I was a lawyer and when I had my first son, I quit my job to start consulting. I found that I needed more – something challenging and creative. I did an online creative writing course and it opened my mind as to what I was able to do. At the time, I had come to realise that female friendships were a big part of my support system. They told us on the writing course to write about something that would sustain us for a year, so I decided to write about the friendships between women.”

Continue reading: Daily Maverick