The Dinaane Debut Fiction Award

Submissions for the 2022 award will open soon.

Reading and writing fiction is one of the most effective ways of building empathy in a society. 

It takes us to unexamined worlds, future worlds, and helps us to understand our present – consider how Camus’s The Plague has resonated around the world, and gone to the top of the bestseller lists, in this time of Covid-19. Or how Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale spoke to a severe shift rightward in the USA, with a focus on controlling women’s reproductive rights.

Jacana Media publishes authors and not just books. With this award, we focus on debut writers, looking to encourage new writing talent. Sometimes wonderful, illuminating and challenging fiction doesn’t get published because publishers are more and more constrained by market forces. Fiction is the one genre where the truths about our society are documented in an uncensored manner. Encouraging and publishing the best of burgeoning South African writers is one way of ensuring storytelling remains a way to understand ourselves and one another.

The winning title is promoted by Exclusive Books on their Homebru platform.

The winner is awarded R35 000 and a publishing contract from Jacana Media.


Submissions for the 2022/2023 award will open on Tuesday, 15 February 2022. Closing dates for entries is Friday, 27 May 2022.

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 subsequent 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.

Entrants’ name should not be included on the manuscript being submitted, as the award is judged blind and the author remains anonymous until the shortlist has been selected.

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.

Incomplete entries will be disqualified.

Please number your pages; use a font size of 12, Times New Roman and 1.5 spacing (avoid unnecessary 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.

Dinaane Award Submission Form

Submissions for the 2022/2023 award will close on Friday, 25 May 2022.

 Please ensure that you have read the rules and criteria for this award before submitting your entry, to be sure that your work qualifies.

Only anonymous Word documents are acceptable, labelled with the title of your work. Attach your submission below.

Disclaimer: Jacana Media assumes no responsibility for lost or misdirected entries. Jacana also reserves the right to edit for spelling and grammatical errors. Copyright remains with the writer, but Jacana reserves the right to use published materials however it deems fit.