Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kiwi book wins major award in South Africa

 A book published to acclaim in New Zealand ten years ago has just won a major award abroad.

The Afrikaans translation of New Zealand/South African author Zirk van den Berg’s Nobody Dies has won the film category of the inaugural kykNET-Rapport book awards in South Africa. This prize is given to the novel or non-fiction work with the best film potential that appeared in Afrikaans in the preceding year.

Winners were announced at an awards ceremony in Cape Town on 21 November 2014.

The kykNET-Rapport book awards are the premier book awards in Afrikaans, the native language of more than 7 million people, who live mainly in South Africa. (New Zealand has some 27,000 Afrikaans speakers.) The competition offers a total prize money of 500,000 rand ($57,000) in three categories: literary fiction, non-fiction and book with most film potential. The Afrikaans language pay TV channel kykNET is one of the principal sponsors, along with the market-leading Afrikaans Sunday newspaper, Rapport.

When Nobody Dies was published by Random House NZ in 2004, the book attracted positive reviews, with The New Zealand Herald naming it one of the top five thrillers of the year, while the New Zealand Listener headlined their review “Is Zirk van den Berg the best thriller writer in New Zealand?” Zirk now owns the rights and it has been published as an ebook through Say Books.

Then two years ago, a South African publisher who had read the book approached the author with the suggestion to translate it into Afrikaans. Van den Berg, who wrote his first two books in Afrikaans, translated his own novel and Nobody Dies was published in South Africa last year under the title ’n Ander Mens – meaning “another human” or “a different person”.

“Having the book published again was a real surprise,” said Van den Berg. “And it was a massive surprise and honour when I heard I was a finalist in this competition, especially given the reputation of other authors on the list. To then hear that the book has won is just wonderful.”

* The English version of Nobody Dies is currently available as an ebook through online bookstores and from the Say Books website.

** Van den Berg’s latest novel Half of One Thing, about a Kiwi soldier in the Boer War, was published by Penguin South Africa earlier this year, and has just become available in New Zealand bookshops.

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