Dinaane Debut Fiction Award

Non-fiction takes the lion’s share of sales of books made in South Africa, with fiction limited to a very small percentage of all sales of locally published books. Many locally published novels sell just a few hundred copies, making it difficult for publishers to recoup the costs of publication from sales.

Sometimes wonderful, illuminating and challenging fiction doesn’t get published because publishers are more and more constrained by market forces. It is heart-breaking to silence these voices, as fiction is the one genre where the heartbeat of southern Africa is documented in an uncensored manner. We cannot allow it to disappear.

Accordingly, Dinaane, the only award of its kind, aims to promote new southern African fiction that speaks to both a local and international audience. It encourages new writers and new readers by publishing material which would likely otherwise not have been selected – for purely commercial reasons – by local publishers of literature. 

The winning title is supported by Exclusive Books.

The winner is awarded R 35,000 and publication by Jacana Media.

Winners of the European Union Literary Award include:
  • The Mourning Bird by Mubanga Kalimamukwento (2018/2019)
  • Selling LipService by Tammy Baikie (2016)
  • Dubsteps by Andrew Miller (2014)
  • The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself by Penny Busetto (2013)
  • Khalil’s Journey by Ashraf Kagee (2011/12)
  • Deeper than Colour by James Clelland (2010)
  • Saracen at the Gates by Zinaid Meeran (2009)
  • Till We Can Keep an Animal by Megan Voysey-Braig (2008)
  • Coconut by Kopano Matlwa (2007)
  • Bitches’ Brew by Fred Khumalo and Ice in the Lungs by Gerald Kraak (2005)
  • The Silent Minaret by Ishtiyaq Shukri (2004)



• Submissions dates for 2021 will be released in 2020.

• Although the entries must be primarily in English, we welcome innovative writing and the exploration of languages capturing the multilingual landscape in the continent and the world.

• You may only enter once; all subsiquent entries after the first submission will be disqualified. 

• Only permanent residents or citizens of South Africa and other southern African countries may apply. 

• Authors must not have had a work of fiction (novel or novella) formally published prior to the award. Self published authors may apply, provided that the work was published only online and no physical copies made. Should the work be shortlisted, such online version must be taken down.

• An electronic copy of the manuscript, along with a short biography (100 words or less) and author details should be submitted to Jacana Media via the form below. 

• In addition, three printed and individually bound copies of the manuscript must be sent to Jacana Media, addressed to: 









• Please bind all three hard copies that you submit to us and print back to back.

• The award is judged blind, so hard-copy manuscripts that feature the author’s name or details by which they may be identified will be disqualified. The hard-copy manuscript should be marked with the title of the work only. 

• Incomplete entries will be disqualified.

• Please number your pages; use a font size of 12, Times New Roman and 1.5 spacing (avoid unneccessary formatting such as borders).

• Manuscripts should be a minimum of 40 000 words in length. Short stories do not qualify.

• Intertextuality and references must be appropriately attributed and permissions from copyright holders obtained. This includes poems; song lyrics; quotes and excerpts from books, newspapers, magazines, journals; and reproductions of artwork, photographs or other forms.

• Submissions must have been authored by one person. Co-authored pieces or works of collaboration do not qualify.

• By entering their manuscript, authors agree not to submit their work for publication to any other avenues until the announcement of the shortlist. Any entries which secure a publishing deal before the shortlist has been confirmed will be disqualified.

Results 1 - 9 of 9

Selling LipService

Selling LipService, Tammy Baikie’s remarkable debut novel, was the winner of the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award in 2016. Daring in scope and...

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Dub Steps

Winner of the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award for 2015

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The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself

The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself is a sparse disturbing novel reflecting the past, present and future of a woman, Anna P, who lives on an...

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Khalil's Journey

Ashraf Kagee, winner of the seventh annual European Union Literary Award, evokes the richly-textured beauty of everyday life of the last century’s...

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Till We Can Keep an Animal

Till We Can Keep an Animal is about a middle-aged woman who is attacked, raped and murdered in her home by armed robbers. The novel is written from...

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Deeper Than Colour

Thematically, Deeper than Colour explores the wide gulf between our view of ourselves, how we are seen by others, and the dispassionate images seen...

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Saracen at the Gates

Saracen at the Gates is a wildly revolutionary tale that is as raucously hilarious as it is bitterly sad, with a satirical edge that finds easy...

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Ice in the Lungs

Ice in the Lungs scrutinises moral quandaries in apartheid South Africa in a dazzling array of meticulous detail and hidden truths complicated by...

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European Union Literary Award Winner 2006. Coconut is a story that deals with growing up as a black child in a white world. It is the story of black...

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