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Sifiso Mzobe Honoured with 2011 Sunday Times Fiction Prize

Young BloodUp-and-coming novelist Sifiso Mzobe emerged as the country’s new Sunday Times Literary Award winner, receiving R75 000 for his win. South Africa’s literary giants celebrated the announcement of the Awards at the stylish Summer Place in Hyde Park, The Fiction Prize, celebrating its 11th year, was awarded to the young word magician from Kwazulu-Natal, Sifiso Mzobe, for Young Blood (published by Kwêla), a novel based on a seventeen-year-old who is caught up in a world of car theft, money, alcohol and greed in Umlazi, Kwazulu-Natal.

“To choose a winner for the Fiction Prize was a challenging task, but Mzobe’s compassion, elegance of writing and intellectual and moral integrity made him stand out above the rest.” This is the view of Michiel Heyns, chairman of the 2011 Fiction Prize judging panel.

Young Blood is a tale of carjacking and car theft that announces the arrival of a major new talent on the local literary scene. The judges commended the novel for the manner in which it sketches the social milieu and the way that ‘street slang and thieves’ argot are very convincingly rendered.”

“Umlazi is the car-stealing capital of KwaZulu-Natal and I thought it was an interesting thing to look at, to see how the conditions under which people live make them come to such a tough decision – to take something that is not theirs. So the story is based on incidents that were happening around me in the township and I thought it would be interesting for readers to get an insight into this crime,” says Mzobe.

When asked what the people of Umlazi thought of his book, Mzobe says, “They think I am Superman for putting these issues in book form because they think of writers as older white people, academics and so they are really proud to see themselves in the book.”

Mzobe had the following to say on his win: “I am surprised and incredibly grateful for both this award and for the amazing response I’ve received from the book. The support has been overwhelming and, after Young Blood’s success, I’ve already starting working on my next book – readers can expect something early next year…”

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