The winners of the South African Literary Awards 2020 were announced at a virtual ceremony streaming from Johannesburg, South Africa on November 7, 2020.

The South African Literary Awards, popularly referred to as the SALAs, have honoured many authors since they were founded in 2005. Winning writers and poets have included Es’kia Mphahlele, Nadine Gordimer, Miriam Tlali, Lauretta Ngcobo, Keorapetse Willie Kgositsile, Wally Mongane Serote, Sindiwe Magona, Zakes Mda, Panashe Chigumadzi, Zukiswa Wanner, Sihle Khumalo, Nuruddin Farah, Yewande Omotoso, Sifiso Mzobe, Sabata Mpho Mokae, and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers.

The SALAs honour writing and writers in all South African official languages across fourteen categories. They include the K. Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award, which is a celebration of one of the country’s most prolific authors of his generation, K. Sello Duiker. First-Time published writers are also acknowledged and honoured by the Awards. The other is the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Literary Award, honouring thespians in the genre, across all languages. In addition, there are the National Poet Laureate Prize, Poetry Award, Literary Translators Award, Lifetime Achievement Literary Award, Posthumous Literary Award, Literary Journalism Award, Creative Non-Fiction Award and, Chairperson’s Award, Children’s Literature Award, Youth Literature Award, and Novel Award.

The finalists for the 2020 awards were revealed on October 5 before the winners were announced on November 7 which is the International African Writers Day. The winners this year are:

  • Children’s Literature Award (English): Niki Daly, It’s Jamela!
  • Youth Literature Award: Trevor Noah, Born A Crime, Edition for Young Readers
  • First-time Published Author Award (Afrikaans: Lize Albertyn-Du Toit, Die Kinders van Spookwerwe
  • First-time Published Author Award (English): Trevor Sacks, Lucky Packet
  • Sello Duiker Memorial Award: Phumlani Pikoli, Born Free-Loaders
  • Poetry Award (Afrikaans): Marlise Joubert, Grondwater
  • Poetry Award (English): Musawenkosi Khanyile, All The Places
  • Creative Non-Fiction Award (English): Toni Strasburg, Holding the Fort
  • Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award (English): Fred Khumalo, Talk of The Town
  • Literary Journalism Award (IsiZulu): Bongani Mavuso, For his Body of Work
  • Novel Award: Fiona Snyckers, Lacuna
  • Literary Translators Award: Refiloe Moahluli, YHEKE YANGA! Umdlali ka3 Toti uba yintshatsheli yeqakamba
  • Posthumous Literary Award: Makhokolotso Albertina Mokhomo
  • Chairperson’s Literary Awards: Recius Melato Malope, For His Body of Work
  • Chairperson’s Literary Awards: Dr Gubudla Aaron Malindzisa, For His Body of Work

Reactions from some of the winners

It is an exciting day for many a reason in the world and one of those is that this baby just won a South African Literary Award! I am super proud of this work and immensely grateful for all the amazing people who put so much love into it.

Yheke Yanga! is the recipient of the Literary Translators Award for 2020. One of the comments they made (which I looooved) ~  ‘…it is not clear which between the English and the isiXhosa is the translated version…’

That was conscious.

It was more of a rewrite than a translation so as to capture the essence and nuances of each language. To translate extends beyond words.

Refiloe Moahluli

Fred Khumalo last night won the coveted SALA Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award for his book Talk of the Town

Fred Khumalo

Trevor Noah

Let me extend my gratitude to the Write Associates and the National Department Of Sports, Arts and Culture. What a great award!!! Literary Journalism Award!!! South African Literary Award!!!!

Bongani Mavuso