South African Indian authors nominated for 2019 Sunday Times Literary Awards

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Vanessa Govender, Imraan Coovadia & Kharnita Mohamed have made the longlist for the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards.

#SouthAfrica: The Alan Paton award in its 30th year strives to encourage writers in South Africa to pursue the standards of excellence and commitment which celebrated author – Alan Paton – set for himself.

Among the books that have evoked critical dialogue, two Indian women authors, Haji Mohamed Dawjee & Vanessa Govender-Tedder have been nominated in the non-fiction category.

The Alan Paton Award for non-fiction will be bestowed on a book that presents “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”. 

Haji Mohamed Dawjee’s book ‘Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a Brown Woman in a White South Africa’ published by Penguin Random House has been listed.

In Sorry, Not Sorry, Dawjee pulls no punches when examining the social landscape: from arguing why she’d rather deal with an open racist than some liberal white people, to drawing on her own experience to convince readers that joining a cult is never a good idea. In this extract she wonders what it would feel like to move through life as a white person.

Hailing from the town of Laudium east of Pretoria, she skipped the family profession of dentistry to chase her dreams. She graduated with a Bachelor in Music from the University of Pretoria spending a short period teaching music and English. Her focus soon shifted into the world of media & journalism where she became Africa’s first social media editor in a newsroom at the Mail & Guardian.

Dawjee now pursues her own writing full-time and on a regular basis, you will find her writing for EWNWomen24 and the Sunday Times as well as contributing to freelance journalism and opinion to a range of other publications.

Veteran TV and radio journalist, Vanessa Govender has also made the long-list for her powerful memoir, ‘Beaten But Not Broken’.

The book shares her personal experience of gender violence inside the South African national broadcaster – SABC – where she was employed. The book startled the nation sending shockwaves through the national broadcaster.

Govender’s book opened up old wounds detailing a period of chilling abuse that she suffered while working for the Indian lifestyle radio station, Lotus FM.

In the category of fiction the ‘Barry Ronge Sunday Times fiction prize’ – which is in its 19th year – will award an author’s novel that is of “rare imagination and style … a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction”. 

The nominees in this category are Imraan Coovadia and Kharnita Mohamed.

The book ‘A Spy in Time’ by Coovadia is a fantastical story about a spy, Enver Eleven in Johannesburg, the only city to survive the apocalypse thanks to its mining tunnels – when a supernova hit, the book is published by Penguin Randomhouse.

Coovadia is the director of the creative writing program at the University of Cape Town. He is the author of novels The WeddingGreen-Eyed ThievesHigh Low In-between and The Institute for Taxi Poetry.

He has also published a study of V.S. Naipaul, as well as a collection of essays, Transformations, and has contributed to publications including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, N+1, The Independent, Threepenny Review, Chimurenga, and The Times of India.

Coovadia has previously won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the University of Johannes­burg Prize, the M-Net Prize, and a South African Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

The fourth nominee – Kharnita Mohamed – for her debut novel ‘Called To Song’ published by Kwela.

Mohamed lectures in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town and is working on a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

‘Called to Song’ documents the journey of a woman towards full self-actualization, after having lived an outwardly perfect life for decades. It examines the intergenerational impacts of gender-based violence on families, and of quasi-religious patriarchy and internalized racism on communities.

The novel is located in a South Africa that, far from being the happy-clappy rainbow nation that the political evangelists would have us swallow, continues to be traumatized by its apartheid past and the enduring inequalities, which history has bequeathed.

Congratulations to these South African authors!


  • VIDEO: Vanessa Govender, the tears & pain pour out in this interview you need to watch as she talks about her memoir, Beaten but not Broken. click here
  • Vanessa Govender-Tedder: Her story of sexual violence inside Lotus FM. This and more in her tell-all memoir ‘Beaten But Not Broken.’ click here

For the complete listing of nominees click here

About Indianspice Staff Reporter

Report and write stories for It is our ambitious goal to cover issues/events/news concerning South Africa and the diaspora.

One comment

  1. Drs Sears Appalsamy

    What about me. I also need an AWARD.