The shortlists for the Sunday Times CNA Literary Awards 2021 were made public on Sunday, June 6, 2021.

The Sunday Times Literary Prize, organised by South African newspaper The Sunday Times, has the subsections of the Barry Rouge Prize for fiction and the Alan Paton Award for nonfiction. Founded in 1989, it has been won by Siphiwe Ndlovu and Terry Kurgan (2019), Bongani Ngqulunga and Harry Kalmer (2018), Zakes Mda and Greg Marinovich (2017), Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole (2016), Jacob Dlamini and Damon Galgut (2015) and a host of others.

After a one-year hiatus as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the award returned this year to celebrate writers in the fiction and nonfiction categories. It comes with South African retail giant CNA as its title sponsors necessitating the name change.

The longlist was announced on April 25 before the shortlists were revealed. They are;


Judges: Ken Barris (Chair), Nancy Richards, and Wamuwi Mbao.

Ken Barris (Chair) comments: It is always difficult to select a shortlist in a competition at national level, and this year the fiction prize included books published in both 2019 and 2020. It was also a two-year period in which many of SA’s best and brightest novelists happened to publish, from gravitas-rich veterans to brilliant newcomers. It was a daunting but immensely enriching task for the panel, and we finally settled on five excellent novels.


  • Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch (Karavan Press)
  • Scatterlings by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe (Jacana Media)
  • The History of Man by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (Penguin Fiction)
  • A Sin of Omission by Marguerite Poland (Penguin Fiction)
  • Due South of Copenhagen by Mark Winkler (Umuzi)


Judges: Griffin Shea (Chair), Nomavenda Mathiane, and Bongani Ngqulunga

Griffin Shea (Chair) comments: Last year was a “missing year” for the South African book world. The Sunday Times literary awards were absent; book launches and festivals were cancelled. In an effort to compensate for the lack of the 2020 awards, we selected a longlist that covered two years, with twice as many books as usual. This literary feast showed us the courage of SA’s journalists, the intelligence of our academics, and the heart of our memoirists.


  • Safari Nation: A Social History of the Kruger National Park by Jacob Dlamini (Jacana Media)
  • The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
  • These Are Not Gentle People: A True Story by Andrew Harding (Picador Africa)
  • Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture by Pieter-Louis Myburgh (Penguin Non-fiction)
  • Dirty Tobacco: Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits — A SARS Insider Spills the Beans on Global Crime by Telita Snyckers (Tafelberg)

The winners will be announced in due course.