THE winners of the Short Sharp Stories writing competition have been announced – with the final top 20 stories now on sale as a collection titled INSTANT EXPOSURE.

Short Sharp Stories is an award made annually by the National Arts Festival to encourage, support and showcase established and emerging South African writing talent. Writers were invited to submit stories inspired by a provocative photograph. Well over 100 entries were received from across the country, with 20 selected by an independent panel for publication as a collection.

“The stories chosen represent a strong cross-section of the South African literary scene, with both newcomers and established voices finding their way onto the list,” says Dr Wamuwi Mbao, convenor of the 2018 adjudication panel and editor of this year’s collection.

Author Michael Yee took first place with his story Loadshedding, with competition judge Megan Ross commenting, “It’s experimental in form and style; the dialogue is strong and believable. Yee is in full control of his prose, and succeeds in whisking together all manner of grit and colour with his distinct lyricism, blending and contrasting images with ease.”

There are two runners-up this year: Shubnum Khan’s Digging Up Boxes and Stephen Buabeng-Aidoo’s Wi-Fi for the Most High. Khan’s story made judge Bongani Kona “sit up”, while Diane Awerbuck said Wi-Fi for the Most High was “a detailed and sympathetic look into a complex life”.

Vamumusa Malusi Khumalo’s Durban Nights received an honourable mention, with judge Rustum Kozain praising the “familiar, almost natural storytelling voices” in Khumalo’s work.

“The creative power of South African writing cannot be underestimated,” Efemia Chela writes in the foreword of the latest collection. “The texture of our everyday experiences is demonstrated in the broad variety of voices gathered together here. Like a photograph, each story gestures to a world of seen and unseen things. These stories embrace the unexpected, the thought provoking, the mysterious, and all the other things that accrue to writing South African stories. We hope you will find something of your own story in the stories that make up INSTANT EXPOSURE.”

‘The other writers featured in the collection are: Tiah Beautement, Femi Agunbiade, Martin Botha, Paul Collings, Bernard du Plessis, Chantelle Gray, Lynn Joffe, Donve Lee, Rochelle Mungaroo, Sam Murray, Ambre Nicolson, Thandekhile Ntshangase, Arja Salafranca, Melissa Siebert and Ian Sutherland.

  • Instant Exposure is now available for purchase as an ebook from Amazon – Find it here: bit.ly/InstantExposure. Free for KindleUnlimited members or on sale for $8.

The Judging Panel

Dr Wamuwi Mbao (Convenor and Editor) is a lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch. He is on the Editorial Advisory Panel of the Johannesburg Review of Books. He is also on the Board of Directors of the poetry journal New Contrast. Dr Mbao writes literary reviews and other articles for the Johannesburg Review of Books. His articles and interviews have also appeared in the Sunday Times, Africa Is a Country, the Daily Maverick and other sites.

Diane Awerbuck wrote Gardening at Night, which was awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (Africa and the Caribbean). Her short story collection Cabin Fever was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. Her story ‘Leatherman’ won the 2015 Short Story Day Africa competition. She co-writes a frontier-fiction series with Alex Latimer (under the nom de plume Frank Owen).

Rustum Kozain is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed poets. He has won both the Ingrid Jonker prize and the Olive Schreiner Prize for his debut poetry collection, This Carting Life

Megan Ross is the author of Milk Fever, an acclaimed poetry debut published by uHlanga. She won the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction in 2017. She is an alumni of the Iceland Writers Retreat, and her work has featured in numerous publications (including the Short Sharp Stories anthologies).

Bongani Kona is a writer and editor at Chimurenga, a pan-African publication of arts, culture and politics. His writing has appeared in a number of anthologies and collections. He was shortlisted for the 2016 Caine Prize for a story which appeared in the 2016 Short Sharp Stories anthology Incredible Journey, and he is the co-editor of Migrations, a short story collection that was published in 2017.

About Short Sharp Stories

The Short Sharp Stories Award for South African Short Story Fiction is made each year by the National Arts Festival. The theme set for writers changes every year. A panel of independent judges select a shortlist of 20 stories, with the best story winning a cash prize.

Previous Short Sharp Stories collections edited and compiled by Joanne Hichens have been TRADE SECRETS (2017), DIE LAUGHING (2016), INCREDIBLE JOURNEY (2015), ADULTS ONLY (2014), and the inaugural collection BLOODY SATISFIED (2013). Please see www.shortsharpstories.com for details.