BFLA clients Heyns and Lewin win SA's premier Fiction and NF prize!


Blake Friedmann clients Michiel Heyns and Hugh Lewin won the fiction and non-fiction sections of the Sunday Times Literary Awards, among South Africa's most sought-after prizes.

Michiel Heyns won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for LOST GROUND, having previously featured at the Sunday Times Awards in 2007, when he was recognised for his translation of Blake Friedmann client Marlene van Niekerk's acclaimed Afrikaans novel, AGAAT. LOST GROUND had recently also been awarded the Herman Charles Bosman Prize.

Hugh Lewin accepted the 24th Alan Paton prize for his book, STONES AGAINST THE MIRROR, which chronicles his journey to meet the former comrade who informed on him to the South African security police in 1964, resulting in Lewin's long jail sentence.

Prishani Naidoo, who chaired the Alan Paton judging panel, described Lewin's memoir: "It speaks in very moving ways to the truth of the character of experiences of friendship, politics and life in apartheid South Africa."

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'A brave and moving memoir.' -- Tymon Smith, The Sunday Times

'Written with incredible grace and insight.' -- Ivan Vladislavic

'By writing this Hugh Lewin allows complete strangers to travel deep into his psyche and view his truest feelings and darkest thoughts.  An interesting read that spotlights previously unknown knowledge to the historical events in South Africa.' --Lloyd Mackenzie, The Mercury

'Hugh Lewin's astounding new book titled STONES AGAINST THE MIRROR tells the most touching story of two intimate friends who decide to join the fight against apartheid in the 1960s.  What the beautiful story of these two men demonstrates is that it is still possible to find forgiveness, healing and reconciliation before it's too late . . . This is by far the best book written and published in 2011, and I would be very surprised if it did not win the Alan Paton award for non-fiction in 2012.' -- Jonathan Jansen, The Times

'Hugh Lewin weaves a powerful tale, showing a master craftsman at work... a deeply moving memoir' -- Nalini Naidoo, The Witness

'This is the book that was waiting to be written. There have been many accounts of life in the active struggle against the apartheid regime but this one is a fearless exploration into the deepest ground - the personal moral ambiguity of betrayal under brutal interrogation-actual betrayal of the writer by most trusted associate and closest friend; and the lifetime question of whether one would have betrayed that same friend under such circumstances, oneself. Hugh Lewin is the man to have faced this with the courage of a fine writer. Unforgettable, invaluable in facing now the ambiguities of our present and future' -- Nadine Gordimer

'Lewin's STONE AGAINST THE MIRROR is a must read.' -- Isaac Ndlovu, LiNet

Praise for LOST GROUND:
Winner of Herman Charles Bosman Prize 2012

'LOST GROUND is so much more than just great storytelling. It is Heyns's mastery of language, his wonderful sense of place, and deftly drawn characters that make this book superlative. I loved it.' -- Deon Meyer

'A remarkable combination of erudite and accessible. ... it will delight a very wide range of readers.' -- Maya Fowler,

'The short review of this book is simply this: it's remarkable,...It's hard to know how Michiel Heyns does it -- part magician, part juggler and fine linguist, he presents a novel that is as mysteriously alluring, yet as simple as the photo of some dorp street on the cover.' -- Jane Rosenthal, Mail & Guardian

'LOST GROUND is the novel Michiel Heyns was always going to write: one that brings together all his many talents -a highly pedigreed writing style…, brilliantly witty satire, a nuanced and convincing rendering of place, people and time, a gay counter-narrative, and the type of dialogue that only a committed eavesdropper can produce.  It is, in short, the best of THE CHILDREN'S DAY combined with the best of THE RELUCTANT PASSENGER, THE TYPEWRITER'S TALE and BODIES POLITIC…. Without obviously "ticking boxes", Heyns knows just how to characterise contemporary South Africa. Whether you read it as a whodunit or as a portrait of the nation, LOST GROUND is utterly compelling - exquisitely written, profound, hilarious and hauntingly familiar.' -- Finuala Dowling,

'LOST GROUND grows lush out of the simplest elements of outstanding story-making. Believable story facts, entertaining dialogue, gentle tension that builds gradually, an acute sense of time, place and character, and humour, enliven this South African dorp story. Deceptively packaged as a crime novel, but landing explosively in the heart as only literature can, Heyns's wonderful book has a reach wide enough to hold even the fussiest and most easily bored of readers.' -- Karin Schimke, The Star