Literary prizes, awards, and a gold standard website


Manu Herbstein's literary laurels include the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2002 for Best First Book (an unprecedented recognition for an electronic book), an honorable mention and a third prize in the Burt Award for African Literature, and a nomination for the Impac Dublin Literary Award.

For the Commonwealth book prize, four international judging panels meet each year to award the Best Book and Best First Book for their region - covering Africa, the Caribbean & Canada, Eurasia, and South East Asia & the South Pacific. These eight books are then shortlisted for the overall Best Book and Best First Book prizes. A distinguished pan-Commonwealth panel of judges met in Edinburgh in April 2002 to select the final winners for the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Lynne Robertson reported in The Glasgow Herald:

An e-book, the debut work of a retired civil and structural engineer, charting the life of an eighteenth-century African slave, ... scooped a prestigious literary prize at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh. Manu Herbstein, 66, took 10 years to complete the novel, the first internet-only work to be recognised by a major book award. Mr Herbstein opted for early retirement to allow him to pursue his literary dream of a historical work graphically capturing the plight of an African slave. The father of two was born in South Africa and has worked all over the world, including Scotland, but now lives in Ghana, where his wife runs a furniture factory.

The Commonwealth Book Prize is marking its twenty fifth anniversary and the current chair in 2012 Ghana's Margaret Busby has said: "The significance of a prize such as this becomes greater with each year. It is vital to encourage and celebrate the talent of newly emerging novelists whose words have the potential to inspire and enrich the entire literary world."

The companion website to the prizewinning novel "Ama, A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade" shared the findings of years of research with a keen public. In December, 2003, the site was receiving an average of nearly 240 visitors a day, and had won a prestigious award in its own right. The gold at the ritzy South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)'s Innovative Use Of New Media Awards 2003 at the Highway Africa conference went to . . . Manu Herbstein's . . . announced winner of the individual category at the awards ceremony at the Settler's Monument in Grahamstown September 8, 2003. By 2005 the daily average of hits was approaching 500.

Numerous interviews have followed Manu Herbstein's winning of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Here are two recent "blogs" by literary enthusiasts:

Geosi Reads, in this on-line file GeosiReads.pdf and Daniel Musiitwa's interview for Africa Book Club Mussitwa.pdf , on-line, with Acrobat Reader or download Acrobat
Free Adobe Reader