Monday, 11 March 2013

Five Leaves writer wins $150,000

The South African-born, Glasgow based, novelist and short-story writer Zoë Wicomb is one of two UK writers winning the Windham-Campbell award of $150,000 each (the other being the American-born playwright Naomi Wallace). Her latest book of short stories, The One that Got Away, was published by the Nottingham small independent Five Leaves and is the only one of her books available from a British publisher.
The One that Got Away is a collection linking her adopted residence of Glasgow with her country of birth.
The One That Got AwayZoë Wicomb is currently a Professor in the Department of English Studies at Strathclyde University and Visiting Professor at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. In addition to two collections of short stories, she has published two novels, David’s Story and Playing in the Light. She has also been one of the judges on the IMPAC literary award.
The appearance of Zoë Wicomb’s first set of short stories, You Can’t Get Lost in Capetown, precipitated the founding of a fan club that has come to include Toni Morrison, J.M. Coetzee, Bharati Mukherjee, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TLS and the New Yorker, though she remains fairly unknown in this country.
The One That Got Away straddles dual worlds. An array of characters inhabits a complexly interconnected, twenty-first century universe. The author explores a range of human relationships: marriage, friendship, family ties, and relations with those who serve us. Wicomb’s fluid, shifting technique makes for exhilarating reading, full of ironic twists, ambiguities, and moments of insight.
The Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell literature prizes at Yale University recognize emerging and established writers for outstanding achievement in fiction, non-fiction, and drama. This is its inaugural year and nine writers were awarded $150,000 each.
Ross Bradshaw, from Five Leaves Publications, said, “I have been a big fan of Zoë Wicomb's work since her first collection of short stories was published by Virago in 1987. I was astonished to discover that she did not have a UK publisher subsequently, so I approached her for UK rights to her most recent short story collection, which has also been published in South Africa and the USA.”
Zoë Wicomb said, “This is a validation I would never have dreamt of. I am overwhelmed — and deeply grateful for this generous prize. It will keep me for several years, and it will speed up the writing too since I can now afford to go away when the first draft proves difficult to produce in my own house”.
Copies of The One that Got Away are available from Five Leaves. Zoë Wicomb is available for interview via Five Leaves. Please contact Ross Bradshaw via
Copies of The One That Got Away are available for purchase from

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