A SIN OF OMISSION by Marguerite Poland wins the Sunday Times CNA Fiction Prize

Congratulations to Marguerite Poland! Her novel, A SIN OF OMISSION, won the 2021 Fiction Prize of the Sunday Times CNA Literary Awards.

The chair of the judging panel, author Ken Barris, said: “Poland is in scathing form in her heartbreaking tale of a young black missionary in the Eastern Cape.”

A SIN OF OMISSION is the fifth novel by acclaimed author Marguerite Poland. The book is published in South Africa by Penguin Random House and will be published in the UK by Envelope Books early next year. The novel was shortlisted for the 2020 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

The book tells the story of Stephen, a young Black Anglican priest in the Victorian Era. When he must return to his rural homeland to inform his mother of his brother’s death, long-held conflicts emerge. Torn between allegiance to his people and the Cape’s colonial powers, Stephen must finally confront the contradictions of his life.

Poland is an awardee of the South African Order of Ikhamanga in Silver. Her expertise in African linguistics and anthropology bring Stephen’s world to life. She is fluent in both isiXhosa and isiZulu.

The Sunday Times CNA Literary Awards were founded in 1989 by the weekly South African newspaper, The Sunday Times. The Fiction Prize is awarded to “a novel of rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction.” The prize is R100 000.

This year’s awards were open to novels from both 2019 and 2020 due to the cancellation of last year’s prize during the coronavirus pandemic. The other shortlisted books were: BREAKING MILK by Dawn Garisch (published by Karavan Press), THE HISTORY OF MAN by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (published by Penguin Fiction, an imprint of Penguin Random House South Africa), SCATTERLINGS by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe (published by Jacana Media) and DUE SOUTH OF COPENHAGEN by Mark Winkler (published by Umuzi, an imprint of Penguin Random House South Africa).

Joining Ken Barris on the judging panel were Nancy Richards, an author and independent journalist, and Wamuwi Mbao, a writer and essayist.

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