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South African writer Lidudumalingani wins the 2016 Caine Prize

Olivia Snaije By Olivia Snaije Published on July 7, 2016
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Cape Town-based South African author, filmmaker and photographer Lidudumalingani has won Africa’s leading literary award ,the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing. Lidudumalingani was awarded the £10,000 prize for his short story,  Memories We Lost, that was published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa, 2015). Memories We Lost tells the story of a girl and her sister who is mentally ill, and how a rural village handles the situation.

Author and Caine Prize Chair of judges Delia Jarrett-Macauley said the story "....explores a difficult subject - how traditional beliefs in a rural community are used to tackle schizophrenia. This is a troubling piece, depicting the great love between two young siblings in a beautifully drawn Eastern Cape. Multi-layered, and gracefully narrated, this short story leaves the reader full of sympathy and wonder at the plight of its protagonists".

Lidudumalingani, who grew up in the village of Zikhovane in the Eastern Cape province said he was inspired, in part, by the way in which villagers speak about and deal with mental illness. In an interview with the South African news site the Daily Vox, he said he recalled "conversations with friends, texts and visuals that suddenly were on my radar, memories of extended family members who struggled with mental illness – many of them on and off and at varying degrees."

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Regarding writing, Lidudumalingani said it was essential for South Africans to read fiction from their country and from Africa in general. "We cannot read about ourselves from the writing of others. If we do this, we will always read a semblance of ourselves that is distorted and not nuanced. Even more important is to produce literature that defies the narratives that black writers are expected and coerced into writing about ourselves."

Lidudumalingani is working on a novel as well as a non-fiction book and has just finished writing a feature film. 

Lidudumalingani's story Memories We Lost is available here.

Olivia is a journalist and editor and manages the editorial content for Bookwitty in English. She is based in Paris.


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