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ARTIC SUMMER wins: Barry Ronge Prize: "Sunday Times Books Editor Ben Williams said that ARCTIC SUMMER was among the 'two standout books that will shape our literary conversation for years to come.'”

Date: Jun 29 1998

Author, political correspondent and commentator Jacob Dlamini and acclaimed fiction writer Damon Galgut were awarded top honours at the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards, at a dinner held at Summer Place in Sandton on 27 June.

Dlamini received the prestigious Alan Paton Award for his book Askari: A Story of Collaboration and Betrayal in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle (Jacana Media). It is a considered examination of South Africa after 20 years of democracy.

"The judges called it an exceptionally brave, groundbreaking book, learned without being ponderous, with an insistent moral compass," said Ben Williams, Sunday Times books editor.

Galgut was awarded the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his novel, Arctic Summer. Of the book, Williams said: "The judges found the novel to be a brilliant evocation of the life of EM Forster, from an author writing at the height of his powers."

The awards celebrate the best of South African fiction and non-fiction writing from the previous year. Each winner receives R100 000.

"The entries for this year's Sunday Times Literary Awards were exceptionally strong, presenting our judges with a particularly tough challenge in choosing winners. There was decidedly more wheat than chaff to sort, but in the end, we have two standout books that will shape our literary conversation for years to come," Williams concluded.

The two were chosen from a combined shortlist, announced at the Franschhoek Literary Festival on 16 May, of 10 books – five for each prize.

Dlamini's book beat four others:

Lost and Found in Johannesburg by Mark Gevisser (Jonathan Ball Publishers);
DF Malan and the Rise of Afrikaner Nationalism by Lindie Koorts (Tafelberg);
Postmortem: the Doctor Who Walked Away by Maria Phalime (Tafelberg); and,
A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg (Jonathan Ball Publishers).

The four other shortlisted books for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize were:

Tales of the Metric System by Imraan Coovadia (Umuzi);
The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga (Umuzi);
The Savage Hour by Elaine Proctor (Quercus); and,
October by Zoe Wicomb (Umuzi).

"This year, the prize money for the awards has been increased to R100 000 each, which underscores the Sunday Times' commitment to promoting the best of our literature," said Williams.

The Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, in its 26th year, recognises books that demonstrate "the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power; compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity".

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, now in its 15th year, is awarded to "a novel of rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction".