Niq Mhlongo

Niq Mhlongo won the Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Fiction 2019 at the Media24 Book Prize 2019 for Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree on June 13, 2019.

Media24, the print media arm of South African media company Naspers, owns Jonathan Ball Publishers and NB Publishers which has the imprints Human & Rousseau, Tafelberg, Kwela Books and Queillerie. The organisation annually hosts the Media24 Book Prizes to recognise the best work published in their stable of book publishers.

For this year’s edition, independent judging panels compiled the shortlists announced on May 13 from 80 submissions. The awards ceremony was held in Cape Town, South Africa on Thursday, June 13, 2019, where Niq Mhlongo won the Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Literature for Soweto, Under The Apricot Tree.

Niq Mhlongo wins Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Fiction 2019The judges described the collection as a superior kind of storytelling by a skillful storyteller, with diverse stories, each one distinguished from the rest by way of subject matter, tone and narrative voice.

“In this collection, Mhlongo shows that Soweto is not only that place south-west of Johannesburg but extends into white spaces as well and potentially even beyond national borders. Soweto becomes a state of mind, a cultural phenomenon, a way of being.”

His book is to our knowledge the first short story collection to have won the award normally handed to novelists. It is quite right as Herman Charles Bosman for whom the prize is named for was regarded as one of South Africa’s greatest short-story writers.

The full list of winners in the different categories are;

  • Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Fiction – Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree by Niq Mhlongo (Kwela Books).
  • Recht Malan Prize for Nonfiction – Steinheist by Rob Rose (Tafelberg).
  • WA Hofmeyr Prize for Afrikaans Fiction – Die Dao van Daan van der Walt by Lodewyk G. du Plessis (Tafelberg).
  • Elisabeth Eybers Prize for Poetry – The History of Intimacy by Gabeba Baderoon (Kwela Books)
  • MER Prize for Youth Novels – Mine by Sally-Ann Partridge (Human & Rousseau).
  • MER Prize for Illustrated Children’s Books – Die legendariese Lua Verwey by Dihanna Taute, illustrated by Theodore Key (Human & Rousseau).

The winner in each category receives R35 000.