Cold Stone Soup, my memoir about growing up under apartheid and the travails of emigrating from South Africa to Australia has won the Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards Jim Hamilton Award for a non-fiction manuscript.
Professor Terri-ann White of UWA Publishing said in the judges’ report:
“This manuscript starts with a most memorable sentence: ‘I was born with a caul, which the nurse brought my mother in a jar.’ It continues with an excellent and lively voice that carries the memoir across 80000 words or more; a story of growing up in South Africa and carrying that heritage through a life and a century filled with incident and change for people who called themselves South African. Many memoirs have the unfortunate trick of beating out a thumping blow-by-blow of detail, achievement, exception. This one makes me believe every word I’m told, and it does so because of the crisp, precise sense that the writer knows how narrative works: how it can drive a reader through hundreds of pages with a believable, humorous, wry, knowing, and reflective voice. The author has clearly read widely and understood where the power of storytelling lies, and has then applied this knowledge to telling her story lightly. There is nothing forced, nothing boring here. For publication I expect an editor would trim the text a little but overall my reading of Cold Stone Soup was a wholly pleasurable experience in telling an interesting story well, giving the reader an insight into history as lived through a childhood in Africa and an adulthood in Australia, observing a beloved and troubled homeland from afar.
I commend the writer for the quality of her work and the planning and successful execution of a complex whole.”