Marguerite Poland’s A SIN OF OMISSION longlisted for the Ondaatje Prize

Awarded by the UK’s Royal Society of Literature to an outstanding work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that best evokes the spirit of a place, the Ondaatje Prize is yet to be won by a South African.

Poland’s deeply poignant novel is set in the Eastern Cape of the late 1800s and tells the story of a black South African Anglican deacon, Stephen (Malusi) Mzamane, trained in England but now marooned in a rundown mission in Fort Beaufort, where he battles the prejudices of colonial society.

Selected by judges Samira Ahmed (Chair), Roger Robinson and Joelle Taylor, Poland shares the list with eight more writers. The shortlist will be announced on 24 April, with the winner announced on 10 May.

Winner of the 2021 SUNDAY TIMES Prize, A SIN OF OMISSION had also been shortlisted for the 2020 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. The novel is published in South Africa by Penguin Random House. The Lennon-Ritchie Agency sold UK rights to EnvelopeBooks. For rights enquiries, contact the agency.

National Arts Merit Award for Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu

February proved an excellent month for novelist and filmmaker Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu. Her latest novel, THE QUALITY OF MERCY, won Zimbabwe’s National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) in the Outstanding Fiction category. NAMA is administered by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and is the country’s highest honour.

February also brought news that her story ‘The Postman’ in THE YALE REVIEW were among three pieces that secured the journal’s shortlisting for the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Award for Fiction.

‘This is definitely a great time to be a Zimbabwean writer,’ Ndlovu said in a recent interview for WORLD LITERATURE TODAY. Click here to read the interview.

For available rights to Ndlovu’s work, click here.

THE SON OF THE HOUSE wins the Nigeria Prize for Literature

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s book, THE SON OF THE HOUSE, has won one of the world’s richest literary prizes, the Nigeria Prize for Literature. The prize comes with an award of $100 000 USD, sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited.

THE SON OF THE HOUSE has been the recipient of numerous awards already. It has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize this year and won the SprinNG Women Author Prize 2020. It also received the Best International Fiction Book Award at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019.

The awards ceremony was held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos on October 30th. Onyemelukwe-Onuobia was there to accept the award and shared her delight on Instagram saying, “My heart is full”.

The jury of judges was chaired by Professor Olutoyin Jegede of the English department at the University of Ibadan. Also on the panel was Professor Tanimu Abubakar from Ahmadu Bello University and Dr Solomon Azumurana from the University of Lagos.

THE SON OF THE HOUSE is Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut novel. It was published in South Africa by Penguin Random House in 2019 and in North America by Dundurn Press in 2021. It has also been, or will soon be, published in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Armenia and across the world in Arabic.

The story revolves around an encounter under duress between Nwabulu and Julie, two women from vastly different backgrounds. They’re united by the same societal pressure: to marry and reproduce. Set in Nigeria, the novel is alive with local culture and family drama. It uplifts the resilience of women navigating patriarchal society.

Strong female characters were a recurring theme on the Nigeria Prize for Literature’s shortlist. The other two finalists were THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE by Abi Daré (published by Dutton Books) and COLOURS OF HATRED by Obinna Udenwe (also published by Parresia Publishers). Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer of Nigerian origin who is based in both Nigeria and Canada. She graduated with a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and works primarily in the areas of health, gender, and violence against women and children.

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.

GOLDDIGGERS Longlisted for International Dublin Literary Award

Congratulations! Sue Nyathi’s THE GOLDDIGGERS has been longlisted for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award!

The shortlist will be announced on 2nd April 2020.

Read more about THE GOLDDIGGERS here

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia Wins Best International Fiction Award

Congratulations to Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia! She has been awarded the Best International Fiction Book Award at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019 for THE SON OF THE HOUSE.

His Excellency, HH Sultan bin Muhammad Al Quasimi presented the award, which includes a prize of 50,000 AED.

THE SON OF THE HOUSE is published by Penguin Random House in South Africa and due for release by Dundurn Press in the USA in October

Read more here

THE THEORY OF FLIGHT by Siphiwe Ndlovu WINS the 2019 Sunday Times Prize for Fiction

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Siphiwe Ndlovu on winning the 2019 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for her debut novel THE THEORY OF FLIGHT! 


THE THEORY OF FLIGHT is published by Umuzi, an imprint of Penguin Random House SA.

THE BLESSED GIRL by Angela Makholwa – Audiobook released

To coincide with the UK publication of THE BLESSED GIRL by Angela Makholwa, the US audiobook has been released.

Have a listen here:

And have a read here:

When you are accustomed to the finer things in life – designer shoes, champagne, VIP lounges, exotic holidays abroad, a luxury penthouse, expensive wheels – what independent young woman in her right mind would want to let them go?

‘In The Blessed Girl, Angela Makholwa has yet again given us a deceptively simple yet layered narrative, in which the plot is as memorable as the characters are unforgettable. Bravo.’ – ZUKISWA WANNER

THE BLESSED GIRL is published by Picador Africa and by Bloomsbury UK.

Claire Robertson’s 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize winner to be made into a film.

Visionary film-maker Erica Brumage has optioned film rights in the sweeping, gloriously told literary historical novel THE SPIRAL HOUSE by Claire Robertson.

Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker’s apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. The year is 1794, it is the age of enlightenment, and on Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love.

Brumage says of the book, ‘Claire’s writing is so evocative and her characters so authentic that one can clearly see them inhabiting their era, hear the vivid cadences of their voices and smell and feel the dirt and sweat of their lives… The Spiral House has an originality and vision that demands particular attention’.

On her vision for the adaptation, Brumage says, ‘Claire’s highly original imagining of the origins of race classification which were to become apartheid in the twentieth century is beautifully constructed as it unfolds through the layers of interweaving love stories with richly rounded characters that are human, fallible, sometimes horrific and entirely fascinating. The tensions between them crackle with energy and dramatic promise, and the ebb and flow of the narrative trajectories of the different character pairings create richly dynamic threads against the backgrounds of the social hierarchies and science of the age.  I’m really excited by the performance potential that exists for the cast of actors that we find for these roles.’

THE SPIRAL HOUSE, won the 2014Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and a South African Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize. Robertson has two other novels, THE MAGISTRATE OF GOWERshortlisted for the 2016Sunday Times Fiction Prize, and UNDER GLASS currently long-listed for the 2019 Sunday Times Fiction Prize.

All three books are published by Umuzi, the literary imprint of Penguin Random House.

The acquisition was negotiated by the Lennon-Ritchie Agency.

Legend signs ‘the most credible’ dystopian novel ever
Legend Press are delighted to acquire World rights (excluding Africa) for ASYLUM, the debut novel by Marcus Low. The deal was made by Legend Press’s Commissioning Editor Lauren Parsons with Aoife Lennon, of The Lennon-Ritchie Agency, Cape Town. The novel will be published in the UK on 15th April 2019.
Asylum was originally published by Pan MacMillan in South Africa in 2017. The Sunday Times (SA) described Asylum as the most credible – and therefore the most disturbing – dystopian novel I [have] ever read: a landscape withering under the onslaught of climatic change, the spread of an uncontrollable superbug, the posturing limpness of politicians and the vague helplessness of well-intentioned but under-supported medical staff.’

Told through the strange and mesmerising diaries of a man with an incurable illness,Asylum is an existential literary novel, set in a quarantine facility in the arid South African Karoo desert. The novel explores the quest for survival when faced with an incurable illness, part inspired by the author’s own degenerative eye condition.

Marcus Low is a Cape Town-based writer and public health specialist. He completed an MA in creative writing at the University of Cape Town in 2009 – for which he wrote an early draft of Asylum. Marcus previously worked as Policy Director at the Treatment Action Campaign, an influencial South African civil society organisation that advocates for the rights and interests of people living with and affected by tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. He remains involved in public health policy both in South Africa and internationally. His novelAsylum was in part inspired by the incarceration of patients with drug-resistant forms of TB in South Africa circa 2008 – something he directly encountered in his work. He was born in Vryburg, South Africa in 1979.

Lauren Parsons, Commissioning Editor comments: ‘We are delighted to sign this searing and engaging novel. Marcus is a wholly original writer and I can’t wait for everyone to read this brilliant and terrifyingly prophetic book’.

Follow Marcus on Twitter at @MarcusLowX