Sifiso Mzobe and Ronnie Kasrils were recently crowned winners of the 2011 Sunday Times Literary Awards at a gala event in Johannesburg, South Africa. The awards, South Africa’s most prestigious literary awards, recognize the country’s best writers in the fiction and non-fiction categories.
Mzobe won the Sunday Times fiction award for his debut novel, Young Blood, while Ronnie Kasrils took the non-fiction award (known as Alan Paton Prize) for The Unlikely Secret Agent, a book that he wrote in tribute to his late wife, Eleanor Kasrils. Both award winners were presented with cash awards of R75,000 (US$10,000).
Mzobe’s Young Blood tells the story of a Sipho, a “young blood” (slang for young man) who at seventeen, is a school dropout living in Umlazi, Durban. While Sipho helps out at his father’s mechanic shop during the day, he yearns for the flashy lifestyle that his friends enjoy. And soon enough he’s drawn into the criminal world – a world where car theft, hijacking and drug dealing are the order of the day for the township dwelling teenagers with no hope of ever finding gainful employment.
In The Unlikely Secret Agent, Ronnie Kasrils writes lovingly about his wife of 45 years, Eleanor, who passed away in 2009 aged 73. And the picture that comes forth is that of a human being with no airs and graces but one who was comfortable in her own skin.