The prize included the trip to the award ceremony, 50,000 dirham (divided between the publisher and author equally) and a gorgeous trophy (photo above). We thought my daughter might have to give a speech, so I wrote one just in case. In the end she didn't have to but I thought I'd post it below to show some of my feelings about winning the prize, which is a HUGE honour.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
First, I’d like to thank the organisers of the Sharjah International Book Fair and the organisers and judges for the book prize. It is a huge honour to have won this prize for best international novel and I’m humbled and very excited. Thank you.
I’d also like to thank my publisher, Penguin South Africa, for submitting my novel for this prize. They have been supportive from the very beginning and I’m grateful for that.
The Scattering is the story of two wars, the second Anglo-Boer War and the German-Herero War, but more importantly, it is the story of two women: Tjipuka and Riette.
History is too often told in men’s voices and too often those stories depict the battlefield as the scene for heroic acts, where men rise to meet their fears and destinies. Women are so often merely the victims of war, with no agency of their own- with no voice, no story, no heroism.
But in The Scattering, Riette and Tjipuka are not victims. Their stories, alone and eventually entwined, tell another side of war.
For women, war is yet another cleaning-up. When the battles are over, when the dead carried off, it is the time for the women to begin their work. They try to heal the wounds, both external and internal, they rebuild the homes as best they can from the broken pieces that remain. In this work, work so difficult and often unsuccessful, the futility of war is laid bare. The black and white, good and bad, right and wrong, become grey indecipherable places with only hard unending answers.
In The Scattering I wanted to show war, to shed light on these two colonial wars many outside of Southern Africa may not be so familiar with, in the hope of encouraging peace. Sadly, Tjipuka and Riette’s stories can be told again and again by millions of women from the past and, sadly, from the present. The hope is that one day this will no longer be the case.
I am so pleased that the judges for this award have chosen to give The Scattering this prize, which will undoubtedly lead to more readers able to hear Tjipuka and Riette’s story, stories both unique to Southern Africa but universal as well.
Again, thank you for this honour.