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SA writer wins 'African Booker' PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 18:00

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. South African writer Mary Watson has been named this year's winner of the Caine Prize - known as the African Booker because of its link to the late Man Booker Prize chairperson Sir Michael Caine - for Jungfrau, a short story exploring a child's experience of life under apartheid.

Watson received the £10 000 prize from Nana Wilson-Tagoe, an expert on African literature at the University of London and chairperson of the judges panel, at a dinner at the Bodleian Library in Oxford on Monday. The short story examines family dynamics from the perspective of the young daughter of a committed teacher during the late apartheid years.

"It is a powerfully written narrative that works skilfully through a child's imagination to suggest a world of insights about familial and social relationships in the new South Africa," Wilson-Tagoe said in a statement.

"It is superbly written and does what a short story should do, by leaving spaces around its narrative in which readers can enter again and again."

Watson was born and lives in Cape Town. She completed her Masters degree in creative writing under André P Brink in 2001, and studied film and television production at Bristol University in 2003.

She lectures in film studies at the University of Cape Town, where she received a Meritorious Publication Award for Moss, the collection of stories in which Jungfrau was first published. She is currently working on her first novel, as well as on a collaborative novel with a group of other South African writers.

The annual short story prize, considered Africa's leading literary prize, was created in 2000 to honour of Caine, a British businessman with a deep interest in Africa and chair for almost 25 years of the Booker, Britain's most prestigious literary award,

Patrons of the award are Africa's four Nobel Prize for Literature winners: JM Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer of South Africa, Wole Soyinka of Nigeria and Egypt's Naguib Mahfouz.

The other writers on the shortlist for this year's prize were Nigerian Sefi Atta, Kenyan Muthoni Garland, Moroccan Laila Lalami and Darrel Bristow-Bovey of SA.

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