March 20, 2019

Winning the Etisalat prize gave me faith as a writer – Songiziwe Mahlangu

Winning the Etisalat prize gave me faith as a writer – Songiziwe Mahlangu

As a new cycle begins with the Etisalat Prize for Literature, Sabinews brings you a series of interviews and articles around past winners and shortlisted writers of the Prize.

First up is Songiziwe Mahlangu, whose novel Penumbra won the Prize in 2014. The quiet accountant will be starting his Etisalat Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in September. As is his style, he kept his answers brief and to the point.

 Sabinews: Did winning the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature change you or how you perceive your writing? 

Songiziwe: Winning the Etisalat prize gave me the faith that my writing is worth something.

Sabinews: You’re currently in the Etisalat Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. How has it been?

I’ll start the Fellowship at East Anglia in mid September

Sabinews: What are you currently working on? 

I’m currently working on my second novel and on some poetry.

Sabinews: Do you worry about your future work getting the same success as Penumbra? 

I’m not worried about that. I’m just happy as long as I have ideas to write about.

Sabinews: Penumbra was published by an indigenous publisher. If you decide to publish another book would it be with the same publisher? Or would you prefer a foreign publisher? 

I want a deal that gives me as much readership as possible. Going forward I’ll look for an agent to negotiate the best deal for me.

Sabinews: Who has been your biggest literary influence? 

I can’t pin down one person. The writers who made the biggest impression on me when I was young were Zakes Mda and K Sello Duiker.

Sabinews: Writing poetry and prose, which one is a bigger challenge for you and how do you tackle it? 

Poetry and Prose require different focus. With prose, once I have an Idea I can write until it is complete. Poetry is not as linear as you have to be in tune with moods. I have not been able to write poetry on a consistent basis as I write prose.

Sabinews: When you’re through with your fellowship, do you intend to write full time? 

I will commit to writing after the fellowship

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