Somali born author scoops South African Lifetime Achievement Award

Novelist Nuruddin Farah won this year’s South African Literary Award (SALA) for Lifetime Achievement. The award presentation was held at the National Library where seven other winners received their accolades from the Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthetwa.
 Farah is the author of eleven other novels which have been translated into more than twenty languages and have won numerous awards, amongst them Kurt Tucholsky Prize, Neustadt International Prize for Literature and others.
 Other stars that shone on the glittering night were gender activist and poet Makhosazana Xaba who together with Refilwe Malatjie shared the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award. This award is inspired by the late Nobel Laureate and was granted for their respective short story collections, Love Interrupted and Running & Other Stories. In granting the award the judges felt that “Malatji and Xaba are two authors who seem to have made a deliberate decision to write stories that speak of women struggles in a patriarchal society. Their narratives expose the world of womankind without marginalising society in their endeavours.
Creative Non-Fiction Award went to Sihle Khumalo for his inspirational travelogue across Francophone Africa titled Almost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu. Its strong point was a feeling by the judges that its treatment of Africa’s governance challenges post’ liberation was a lesson necessary for Africa as it seeks its own renaissance. “Khumalo’s exploration is hits the bull’s eye because his decision to tour West Africa without a crash course in French meant he was above being influenced by the culture of the place. His was a mirror approach; telling it like it is without fear of shaming the native.”
 Claire Robertson won the First Time Published Award for her 278 pages hard cover novel The Spiral House. “As you know, a head is a deal heavier than it looks. That is one reason you do not want to drop it anywhere near your feet”. Any novel with such as blurb is mesmerizing without apologizing.
 Nhlanhla Maake scooped the Literary Translators’ Award, a feat that is becoming a habit for this prolific author and intellectual. Also getting awards were Jamala Safari (The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods) and Thandi Sliepen (The Turtle Dove Told Me). Both won for K.Sello Duiker Memorial and Poetry Award respectively.
 The big winner on the night was Farah especially given the situation in his country of birth, Somalia which is officially a failed state with African Union troops trying to maintain a semblance of order. While Farah lives in Cape Town and New York, where he is Distinguished Professor of Literature at Bard College, his triumph is not lost in the chaos engulfing Baidoa where he was born 69 years ago.
 Farah’s subjects revolve around colonialism, feminism and nationalism with notable works including From a Crooked Rib, Maps, Gifts, Secrets etc.
 An Amazon review of his novel From a Crooked Rib notes, “Written with complete conviction from a woman’s point of view, Nuruddin Farah’s spare, shocking first novel savagely attacks the traditional values of his people yet is also a haunting celebration of the unbroken human spirit”

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