@Fest Andrew Salomon wins Short.Sharp.Stories Award

Andrew Salomon wins Short.Sharp.Stories Award

Andrew Salomon is the winner of this year’s Short.Sharp.Stories Award. Salomon’s short story, Train 124, earned him R20 000 in prize money. His work, along with that of 19 other talented authors, is available in the Incredible Journey anthology.

The anthology was officially launched on the Friday, 10 July at the Eden Grove complex. Several of the authors were present at a panel discussion hosted by last year’s winner, Nick Mulgrew. Salomon himself was absent. On the panel were runners-up Bridget Pitt and Lidudumalingani, and fellow Incredible Journey author Megan Ross.

Mulgrew started by reading from Salomon’s story (see page 17 for an extract), before introducing the panellists to the audience. Pitt appeared composed and dignified, Lidudumalingani relaxed, and Ross heavily pregnant. Mulgrew began discussions by asking Pitt about the inspiration for her story, The Infant Odysseus, a piece about a baby that escapes from a shop and crawls down a city street.

“I was interested in this baby in a hostile environment for infants,” said Pitt. “Some characters pretend it’s not there and the situation is not happening. I was interested in how that played itself out. It was a South African moment of encounter.”

Mulgrew also questioned her choice of making both the mother and the child migrants in this story.

“I think in a way we are all migrants,” Pitt responded thoughtfully. “Humans are migrant by nature.”

The discussion of babies allowed Mulgrew to segue neatly into a conversation about Lidudumalingani’s story, Memories We Lost, which features a child protagonist coping with the degeneration of her sister’s mental health.

“My story is about dealing with an issue beyond a young child’s understanding,” said Lidudumalingani. The young writer grew up in Zikhovane in the Transkei and he says that his upbringing influenced the landscape of his fiction.

Lidudumalingani is not only a writer, but also a filmmaker. Mulgrew questioned the extent to which working with a visual medium affected Lidudumalingani’s prose.

“I really just write in images,” he shrugged. “The one influences the other. The images come from the writing.”

Ross’s story, The Island, is a futuristic imagining of an initiation ritual for women. Ross noted that although there are many rites of passage marking the transformation from boy to man, the same rituals are not present for women.

“It’s an imagining of a safe space for the transformation from girl to woman,” explained Ross. “A cathartic process to prepare for what is expected from a woman.”

The panellists also briefly touched on the debate regarding the underrepresentation of black and female writers in South African fiction. Recent developments and discussions about the issue have left the authors feeling optimistic for the future.

“It’s liberating for everyone,” said Pitt of the changing media landscape.

“Something is beginning to happen,” agreed Lidudumalingani. “Black writers, young writers, they are finding places to send their short stories.” He did say that the problem of underrepresentation of marginalised groups is much worse in the case of longer fiction and novels.

Mulgrew announced the theme for the 2016 anthology: “Die Laughing”, which received mixed responses from the panellists.

“I haven’t found a single joke in all of the stories I’ve written,” laughed Lidudumalingani. “Don’t think this one is for me.”

Ross pointed to her baby bump. “I’m tending to this first.” She said she might give it a try after babyrelated pressures subsided somewhat. “I love comedy; I think I’d like to write something.”

Pitt was probably the most enthusiastic of the three. “It’s an interesting theme, quite intriguing. I’ll have to sit with it. I often use humour to deal with difficult issues. I’ll carry it around in my pocket.”

Any person living in South Africa may enter the competition. More information can be found here.

Kerstin Hall
Cue student reporter

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