Kagiso Lesego Molope novel This Book Betrays My Brother was announced the winner of the Ottawa Book Award 2019 on October 16, 2019.
Since 1985, the Ottawa Book Awards / Le Prix du livre d’Ottawa have paid tribute to the Canadian city’s outstanding writers by shining the spotlight on the top English and French books published in the past year. Previous winners of the award have been Shane Rhodes, David O’Meara, Paul Wells, Jamieson Findlay, Elizabeth Hay, Roy MacGregor, and Brian Doyle.
The finalists for 2019, announced on September 18, 2019, were;
- Paul Carlucci for The High-Rise in Fort Fierce (Goose Lane Editions).
- Mark Frutkin for The Rising Tide (The Porcupine’s Quill).
- Kagiso Lesego Molope for This Book Betrays My Brother (Mawenzi House Publishers).
- Michael F. Stewart for Ray Vs the Meaning of Life (Self-published).
- Jean Van Loon for Building on River (Cormorant Books).
From these books, the jury of Sanita Fejzic, Joanne Proulx, and Jeff Ross selected Kagiso Lesego Molope’s This Book Betrays My Brother. The jury said of the win: “A generous storyteller, Kagiso Lesego Molope plunges us into a first-person narration by Naledi, an adolescent growing up in South Africa in the 90s, obsessed with boys, clothes and the other usual etceteras of teenager life. Told in retrospect, this young adult novel is a racking page-turner; the story and its characters are bound and broken by issues of race and class, filial loyalty and betrayal, innocent friendship and sexual awakening, and the sudden and systemic violence against women in a deeply patriarchal society. A must-read for all ages, This Book Betrays My Brother demands that we recognize the price of speaking the truth in a culture of silence.”
Molope who had a day before won the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Prize was emotional about her win stating on social media, “Two days. Two books. Two awards! I am truly grateful❤️ Tomorrow there’ll be photos of me crying on stage because I did. A lot! Huge thank you to the city of Ottawa for this honour!!!”
She goes home with the prize money of $7,500 and the glory of being Ottawa’s finest writer in English for 2019.