South African Author Wins PEN International’s Inaugural New Voices Award

04 Oct 2013
Masanda Ntshanga winning the New Voices Award.

The South African PEN centre of PEN International (SA PEN) is pleased to advise that PEN International’s inaugural New Voices Award was yesterday awarded to local writer Masande Ntshanga. The annual award was established to encourage new writing in the countries in which PEN International operates and to provide a much needed space for young and unpublished writers to submit their work. The award actively encouraged entries from diverse linguistic regions and communities.

Masande is one of three young writers from around the world to have made this year’s shortlist. All three writers are in attendance at the 79th PEN International annual Congress, being held in Reykjavick, Iceland this week, and have read from their work at an event held as part of the Reykjavík International Literary Festival.

Masande was awarded a cash prize of $1,000 USD and his winning entry will be published in PEN International magazine. A selection of the texts submitted for the award will appear in a special e-anthology.

The 2013 award was open to unpublished writers aged 18-30. PEN International invited PEN centres around the world to submit works from one male and one female writer of their choice. SA PEN asked notable members of the literary community to nominate writers and subsequently twenty-one writers were invited to submit a work of prose or poetry. A judging panel read the submissions “blind” (i.e. they were not aware of the author of each piece) and selected two works to send on to PEN International. Similarly, the submissions that PEN International received were judged “blindly” by a panel consisting of Hephzibah Anderson, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Carole Blake, Alain Mabanckou, Sjón, and Luisa Valenzuela.

SA PEN’s Executive Vice-President, Margie Orford, said “Masande Ntshanga was yesterday awarded the inaugural PEN International/New Voices Award at a wonderful event in Reyjkavik, Iceland, for his story “Space”. Masande is a rare talent and an assured and lyrical writer. It is wonderful that a young South African won this prestigious award.”

Laura McVeigh, Executive Director of PEN International, said “In each generation literary talent finds a way to rise to the top, but the New Voices Award aims to speed up this process by highlighting work by writers still unpublished. We’re delighted to celebrate this talent with PEN Centres from around the world in the inaugural PEN International/New Voices Award, which continues PEN’s tradition of bringing together writers worldwide to promote literature and free expression.”

PEN International/New Voices Award 2013 shortlist:

  • “Space” by Masande Ntshanga (South African PEN)
  • “Temporada de halcones/Falcon Season” by José Pablo Salas (PEN Mexico. English translation by Jennie Rothwell.)
  • “The Collective Name for Ninjas” by Claire Battershill (PEN Canada)

Read the shortlisted stories here.