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Wednesday, October 8, 2008


JM Coetzee agrees to be final judge

The South African Centre of International PEN (SA PEN) is pleased to announce a new literary award in Africa to replace the HSBC / SA PEN Literary Award.

The new award for original short stories in English will be known as the PEN / STUDZINSKI Literary Award. John Studzinski, a global investment banker and philanthropist, has generously donated the prize money.

Nobel Laureate John Coetzee has agreed to be the final judge for the new award.

Award-winning author and SA PEN executive committee member, Shaun Johnson, has assumed leadership responsibility for the award. With Shaun’s guidance, the project will build on the momentum of the previous awards sponsored by HSBC Bank plc in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Johnson said he had agreed enthusiastically when asked to take on the task: ‘Having experienced myself how helpful and encouraging it is to a writer to have one’s work recognised in the form of literary awards, I’m delighted to be able to play a part in assisting other authors.’

His debut novel The Native Commissioner won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Africa, the MNet Literary Award, the Neilsen Booksellers’ Choice Award, was longlisted for the international Dublin/Impac prize, and shortlisted for the Sunday Times and University of Johannesburg awards.

In a sponsorship arrangement which makes the PEN / STUDZINSKI award one of the more financially rewarding literary competitions in Africa, the first, second and third prizes respectively will be £5,000, £3,000 and £2,000. The award aims to encourage new creative writing in Africa and will offer talented writers an exciting opportunity to launch or develop a literary career.

The selected contributions of 86 writers to the earlier HSBC / SA PEN Literary Awards were published in a series of books of new creative writing, entitled African Compass, African Road and African Pens. First prize winners of the HSBC / SA PEN Awards were Elizabeth Pienaar (2005), Sean O’Toole (2006) and Henrietta Rose-Innes (2007).

Three authors whose short stories were published in AFRICAN PENS in 2007 are on a shortlist of five for the 2008 Caine Prize. They are: Stanley Onjezani Kenani (Malawi) – For Honour; Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa) – Poison, and Gill Schierhout (South Africa) – The day of the Surgical Colloquium hosted by the Far East Rand Hospital.