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M-Net drops M-Net Literary Awards

2014-02-25 16:05
Cape Town – Pay-TV broadcaster M-Net is ending its M-Net Literary Awards and the only competition in South Africa which celebrated writing and awarded annual prizes to books written in all of South Africa’s languages.
The M-Net Literary Awards which M-Net started in 1991 as The M-Net Book Prize and which grew to become one ouf South Africa’s most prestigious literary honours, will not be taking place in 2014 – a decision lamented by not just South Africa’s book publishing industry but also readers and writers.

The past couple of years entries grew from especially indigenous African languages and emerging new literary voices, deftly tackling pressing social issues through the written word. Those novels ranged from alcohol abuse and HIV/Aids to the challenges faced by young South Africans. Interesting crime writing also showed exponential growth the past few years. In 2012 the first Venda author was honoured when a prize was awarded in that language category.

Where several African language writers have turned to English, the M-Net Literary Awards encouraged established and new writers to pen stories in their mother tongues. The recognition of prizes for books in all of the country’s official languages, also helped to not only focus the public’s attention on local stories and books – some of which have successfully been turned into TV projects – but also got the attention of overseas agents and readers.

Hettie Scholtz, convenor of the M-Net Literary Awards for many years, informed South Africa’s publishing industry that M-Net is not going ahead with the awards because the pay-TV broadcaster is “re-evaluating its corporate projects”.

A year and a half ago at the M-Net Literary Awards in 2012, M-Net CEO Patricia van Rooyen said that “from an M-Net point of view, we want to reward writing in all of the languages of this country. We want to reward and welcome all stories and in their mother tongues.

“What M-Net does is to tell stories. It’s stories that make our business so successful and sustains us. That’s why we continue to support these awards. We believe that anything – a novel, a script for a series – is what makes our business tick,” Van Rooyen said at the time.

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