South African Writer Zukiswa Wanner Awarded the 2020 Goethe Medal
Prolific Zambian-born South African writer Zukiswa Wannerhas been awarded this year’s Goethe Medal. According to the Goethe Institut, the annual awardis given on behalf of the German government to individuals “who have performed outstanding service for the German language and for international cultural relations”. Wanner receives the award alongside Bolivia’s Elvira Espejo Ayca, the Director of the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore (MUSEF) in La Paz, Bolivia, and British writer and former Man Booker Prize winner, Ian McEwan.
Commenting on the selection of Wanner as this year’s winner, the Goethe Institut writes:
“Her conception of herself as an African writer leads her to range far beyond national frontiers in her writing, while at the same time bringing the diversity of African culture into her artistic work. Her detailed knowledge of South African literature and her nuanced understanding of regional discourses and female identity in Africa mean her expertise is internationally sought after; she is also a role model for an entire generation of African writers.”
Wanner has written several books over the years including Men of the South, The Madams, Hardly Working in addition to two children’s titles namely Jama Loves Bananas and Refilwe––the African retelling of the fairy taleRapunzel. In 2018, Wanner joined forces with Nomavuso Vokwana and established her own publishing house, Paivapo.
Since the national lockdown began over a month ago in South Africa, Wanner has been curating the virtual literary festival Afrolit Sans Frontières, which is organized by 16 writers from ten countries across the African continent.