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Cynthia Jele Wins the 2011 M-Net Literary Award for Happiness is a Four-letter Word

Happiness is a Four-Letter WordCongratulations to Kwela author Cynthia Jele who took home the 2011 M-Net Literary Award for her novel Happiness is a Four-letter Word.

The announcement was made at a Gala event on Saturday evening in Cape Town. Jele was awarded the prize in the “Film” category, which honours the author whose novel shows the greatest promise for translation into a visual medium. According to the judges, Jele’s novel has “an abundance of riches and dialogue that will set the screen alight. ”

Jele receives R50 000. We’re thrilled for her!

Here’s the M-Net press release:

M-Net Literary Awards – Winners Announced

The winners of the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards were announced at a glamorous event at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town on Saturday, 18 June.

In the 20th commemorative year of this prestigious South African book prize, veteran authors swept the boards in the main language categories, while a first-time novelist scooped top honours with a charming story in the competition’s fledgling film category.

The M-Net Literary Awards invites entries in all eleven official South African languages. This year, awards were presented in four different language categories: Afrikaans, English, Nguni and Sotho. The M-Net Literary Award in the film category is reserved for the novel, among all the entries in all the categories, that shows the most potential to be adapted into a commercially-viable feature film.

In the English category, one of the country’s most prominent writers, Ivan Vladislavič received the award for Double Negative. This multi-faceted novel, which was written as a counter-piece to a book of photographs depicting Johannesburg by renowned photographer DavidGoldblatt, was singled out by the judges as “a stylistic delight with which little can compare”.

Double Negative was commended for its special significance in the current age of overlapping virtual realities and deep hunger for real visual surfaces rather than imagined depth.

Afrikaans author Ingrid Winterbach completed a hat trick with her innovate latest novel Die Benederyk. She nabbed her first M-Net Literary Award, written under the pseudonym Lettie Viljoen, in 1994 for Karolina Ferreira and continued her winning streak with Die boek van toeval en toeverlaat in 2007.

Both the Sotho and Nguni category winners have been familiar faces at literary awards ceremonies over the past decade.

It was a first win at the M-Net Literary Awards for K.J. Sekele, however, who have been on previous shortlist. His arresting novel about adoption and family roles in African families, Lehutšho, was also a strong contender in the film category.

In the Nguni category, popular Xhosa novelist, Ncedile Saule added another M-Net Literary Award to his collection with Inkululeko Isentambeni. This reverting political narrative impressed with the way it explored human tragedy with inventive stylistic structures.

The much-contested film category was won by debutant Cynthia Jele, who told the audience in her acceptance speech how Happiness is a Four Letter Word had been written in response to Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. She decided to read every single novel recommended by the famous talk show host, but was so dampened by the ‘heaviness’ of so many of the stories, that she decided to write the book she, and many young women like her, would want to read.

Jele’s novel tells the story of sistas and fashionistas without shame who frequent the malls in the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

According to the judges, Happiness is a Four Letter Word is a novel with an abundance of riches and dialogue that will set the screen alight.

The winners in each category received R50 000 as apposed to the R30 000 from previous years. All the winning novels are available on sale at and at the gala event M-Net confirmed its commitment to the South African book by announcing that it would support sales of the winning books with an extensive marketing campaign on the M-Net television channels.

The broadcaster also plans to extend the M-Net Naledi initiave which encourages a culture of reading from a young age by facilitating fun-filled reading programmes at rural and less privileged schools.

-ends –
Issued by M-NetCorporate Communications.

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