2015 SA Writers College Short Story Competition


2015 Annual Short Story Award


For Emerging Writers in South Africa



Well done to our winners of the 2015 SAWC Short Story Competition. These were the standout stories among hundreds of excellent entries this year. You can all be proud.

This year marks our 10th anniversary and celebrates our continued support for emerging writers in South Africa.
Choosing the finalists is an arduous process of elimination involving three rounds of judging and two scoring sessions where, ultimately, the final placement comes down to the maths.
Every year we are transparent about the rating process, publishing the scores of our winning stories. We also name all the entries we think have merit, and that, with a bit more crafting, can be winning stories. For that reason, we have published an extra-long list of stories that captured our attention this year.
Congratulations to all of these writers.



The Winners


FIRST PLACE: ‘An Anniversary, Shaded’ - by Duncan Aird

RUNNER-UP: ‘Rembrandt’ - by Ian Sutherland

THIRD PLACE: 'The Exchange', by Natanja Greeff



Highest Honours


‘We were the Cesspool Quartet’ – by Ramona Chetty
‘Annie’ – by Dorothy de Kok
‘Outage’ – by Beth Hunt
‘Deliberate Catharsis’ – by Thando Mahlangu






‘The Teacher’ - by R. D. Choto
‘The Tin Roast’ – by Shannon Connolly
 ‘25 Lines’ – by Cindi Page
‘My Name is Eddy’ – by Rudolph Maré
‘Late Skate’ - by Melita Vurden
‘Summoning Cain’ – by Orry Messer
‘One More Day’ – by Kirsti Natalya Bauer
‘Tug of War’ - by Irene Hazi
‘The Enigma of the Greenhouse’ – by Gemma-May Grotepass
‘Change Management’ – by Liz Dewing
‘16 December, 2015’ - by Beyers de Vos





Honourable Mention


These writers receive an Honourable Mention for stories that were well-written and enjoyable to read.

‘The Bluest Anniversary’ – by Hiyoowi Hamainza
‘The Anniversary’ - by T.C. Sandy
‘Juffrou Prinsloo’s Wednesday Afternoon’ - by Marietta Grobbelaar
‘The Anniversary of Displacement’ - by John Harvey
‘The Nebulous Her’ – by Clinton Matos
‘A Year of Living Dangerously’ – by Mike Forde
‘The Anniversary’ – by K.E Solomons
‘Nomzamo’s Family of Dreams’ – by Ndou Tsedzuluso Ashton
‘Degrees of Significance’ – by Dan Maré
‘Spring Anniversary’ - by Tanya Olckers
‘Where She Went’ - by Chelsea Haith
‘Happy Baking’ - by Lyndall Cain
‘Shadows in the Suburbs’ - by W. Adriaan Odendaal
‘You Again’ - by Emma Olën
‘The Anniversary’ - by Sedick Suze
‘The Hardest Thing’ – by Sandra D. Samuels
‘The Gift’ – by Thomas Dancer
‘The Daughters of Lillith’ – by Cathy Marshall
‘The Letters’ – by Lize Snyman
‘The Anniversary’ – by Janine Milne
‘A Real Woman Never Cries’ - by Amina Thula
‘Just Like You’ – by Dan Philander
‘Adoption’ – by John Keith Anderson Holland
‘Letters beside Blushing Tulips’ – by Therveshree Canniappen
‘The End of Days’ – by Ilanit Chernick
‘Reactions’ – by Zandile Tshabalala
‘Day of Reckoning’ – by Robyn Viljoen
‘Our Three Year Day’ - by Suzette Leal
‘Gemynddæg’ – by Catherine Joubert
‘Meet Me in April’ - by Margaret Nyamushamba
‘The Edification Ceremony’ - by Thanya Pia April
‘A Completely Normal Day’ – by Helouise le Roux
‘Move Along Please Gentlemen’ - by Warren Jeremy Rourke
‘Night of the Pig’ – by Pamela Schofield
‘Sho’t Left’ - by Mbonisi P. Ncube
‘Autumn Leaves’ – by Michael Mclaggan
‘Happy Anniversary, Darling’ - by Natisha Parsons




       More Stories We Loved


‘Maggie’ – by Karin Kitshoff
‘Run’ – by Leverne Johnson
‘Nqobile’ – by Rasvanth Chunylall
‘Jackie’ – by Sphamandla Madondo
‘Devotion’ – by Kirti Ranchod
‘The Wedding Picture’ – by Joy Moodley
‘Anniversary’ – by Anton Taylor
‘Mother, Maids and Men’ - by Penny Mitchell
‘Jhbr1’ - by Rui Ricardo Rodrigues
‘Sugarburn Snowfall’ – by Elizabeth Gaisford
‘Peace Blossom’ – by Liz Kirsten
‘The Former Location’ – by Martin Coetsee
‘Harold, Keith and Rinkhals’ – by Raymond Malatji
‘The Anniversary’ - by Bronwen Meurig-Evans
‘Libertide’ – by Kirstin Ruth Pillans
‘Anniversed’ – by Nabeela Hoosen
‘Lengren’s Spell’ – by Liezl Durie
‘We’re All We Need’ – by Andrew Patterson
‘Happy Anniversary’ – by Chris Gilmour
‘The Anniversary’ – by Melody Lee Vermeulen
‘Always and Forever’ – by Candice Scrooby
‘Shut Up, Cookie, and Dance!’ – by Lynn Joffe
‘Autumn Afternoon’ - by Amy Purdon
‘Not Like This’ – by Wendy Sanzin
‘A Night to Die for’ - by Tiaan Van Tonder
‘Freedom’ - by Carmen Botman
‘The Heart of a Cage Bird’ - by Christopher Conrady
‘The Kiss that Started it All’ - by Aimee Bouwer
‘Four Feet Under’ – by Hayley Van Der Woude
‘Untitled’ – by Sinethemba Mabuyakhulu
‘Role Over’ – by Bob Stanton
‘Two Anniversaries’ – by Elaine Allemann
‘Pilgrimage’ – by Kennedy Ifeh
‘Double Take’ – by Anne Watt
‘Silver Stallion Tours’ – by Janice Gardiner-Atkinson
‘Lifeline’ – by Bedelia B Paulsen
‘A Night to Remember’ – by Christine Coates
‘Time Begets Change’ – by Fiona Coward
‘Iris & Ivy’ - by Daniella Pallotta
‘The Day Pigs Fly’ – by Stella Mpisi
‘Anniversary’ – by Robin Bownes
‘The Birthday Gift’ - by Pete van der Woude
‘Encore’ – by Ray Hattingh
‘Emerald Eyes’ – by Jana Ferreira
‘The Anniversary of Life’ – by Yolande van Deventer
‘Purgatory in Paradise’ – by Hennie Coetzee
‘The Anniversary’ – by Barry Ger


The judges’ ratings and comments for the top three stories

A huge thank you to our judges this year: Ginny Swart, Alexandra Smith, Andrew Salomon, Karen Jeynes and Greg and Lisa Lazarus

First Place

An Anniversary, Shaded

by Duncan Airdread-the-winning-entry-here

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 19/25
Originality 18/25
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 19/25
Characterization 20/25
Imagery and use of language 20/25
Overall gut response to story 19/25

TOTAL 115/150


Judges’ comments
  • Yessss…shades of Bosman! I can hear Patrick Mynhardt’s voice, reading this at the Market Theatre. It is so funny and very, very South African. Bosman would have loved it and so do I. Ginny
  • A witty and entertaining response to various forms of culture and popular culture, with interesting use of intertextuality. Alex
  • Wonderfully narrated with an authentic South African zest that skilfully blends humour and scandal. Andrew
  • I would have prefered to see this obviously technically proficient writer look at something entirely original. There is clear talent and style, but the echoes of Bosman overpower in places. Also the choice of narrator makes the events all happen at one remove, distancing the reader a little. Karen
  • A work set in contemporary South Africa and written in the style of Bosman's Schalk Lourens stories runs the risk of seeming dated, out of touch with South African life now. But this is a tale with strong comic imagery and timing, and a homage to Oom Schalk that does place him in an erotically and demographically more contemporary context. The ending could perhaps have been foreshadowed a little more. Greg and Lisa
Runner Up


By Ian Sutherlandread-the-runner-up-entry-

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 20/25
Originality 18/25
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 19/25
Characterization 17/25
Imagery and use of language 19/25
Overall gut response to story 19/25

TOTAL 112/150


Judges’ comments
  • A good read, laying out his unsatisfactory relationship with his wife and son. A nice twist that opens the door to a sort of understanding with his son later on. Ginny
  • Lovely! Great characterisation, excellent spotlight on relationships - father/son, husband/wife -  rich use of local setting, entertaining, but also thought-provoking and with a good twist. Alex
  • Hooks the reader right from the start, excellent use of sardonic humour. One or two instances that are temporally and spatially a bit suspect, but the writing succeeds very well in taking the reader along for an intriguing ride with the narrator that has a poignant twist at the end. Andrew
  • The writer has a great confidence and sense of style. There's a definite voice here, and it makes for a great reading experience. In some places the story can be a little superficial, in others it truly grabs and hooks. Work on that consistency, even within your stylistic choice. Karen
  • The story is fast-paced and holds one's attention. It could be improved with fresher characters: the bitchy, superficial wife and resentful husband seem familiar. Also, the perfect Rembrandt rendition is hard to believe; it would be good to see a more plausible ending, perhaps foreshadowed in some way. Greg and Lisa
Third Place

The Exchange

by Natanja Greeffread-the-runner-up-entry-

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 19/25
Originality 16/25
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 17/25
Characterization 17/25
Imagery and use of language 17/25
Overall gut response to story 16/25

TOTAL 102/150


Judges’ comments
  • Lovely story, full of emotion, a real lump in the throat read. Ginny
  • Potentially moving and poignant, however the set up is somewhat contrived and the characters are not entirely convincing in their dialogue and actions.. Alex
  • An affecting story that portrays desire, disappointment and desperation equally well. Some of the characters' actions and dialogue are difficult to find believable in the situation depicted.. Andrew
  • There's a strong theme here, but at times it becomes too strong, too overpowering. A little step back, and a little more nuance would make for a more compelling read. Some very heartfelt moments at the core of this. Karen
  • An absorbing and pacey story. Potential areas for improvement include a richer central character - the helpless poor young woman is a stock figure - and a less cut-and-dried resolution. Laughter, embracing, a new chance at a relationship, happiness from the young woman whose baby is now gone - this perfect resolution to a morally intricate situation feels glib.. Greg and Lisa




  • First Prize: R 10 000.00
  • Second Prize: R 5 000.00
  • Third Prize: R 2 000.00

The top three entries will be published on our college site and will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.






  • Entry is limited to South African residents only. anthology-400
  • Entrants must submit a story of maximum word count: 2000 words. Any entries exceeding the word count by 50 words will not be considered.
  • Writers can interpret and represent the theme in any way they choose. Stories that appear to be entirely unrelated to the theme will not be considered.
  • We strongly recommend that writers read through the competition archives or the past winning stories to see what kind of writing appeals to us at SA Writers' College. We enjoy highly original writing that is authentic and thought-provoking.
  • We aim to support and acknowledge beginner writers, so we only accept stories from writers who have been published fewer than four times in any genre, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). This does not include articles for community or work newsletters where the circulation is under 1000.
  • Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own full copyright to the story submitted.
  • Only one story per entrant is allowed.
  • Only e-mail submissions are acceptable, with stories attached as Word Documents. Mark your entry clearly with the subject line: SAWC Annual Short Story Competition, and submit according to rules below.
  • If you have not received an acknowledgement of your submission within three days, please re-send your entry.
  • Queries and submissions must be sent to Nichola Meyer: [email protected]



  • Your first page of your Word document must include the story title, your name, email address and total number of words of the entry.
  • Do not include your name on any page of your story, except the title page. All entries will be judged blind.
  • Use a font such as Arial or Times New Roman, size 12 or more. Use 1.5 or double spacing between lines. We prefer a clear line between paragraphs rather than indenting.
  • Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”, or on our webzine. Read these:

Archives View our Archived Competition Entries Here


Our panel of judges for 2015 includes the award-winning writers Ginny Swart, Alex Smith, Karen Jeynes, Andrew Salomon as well as Greg Lazarus.


  • The competition is open to anyone living in South Africa over the age of 16.
  • The competition closes at midnight on 31 March 2015. The shortlist is published on 18 April, and the winners will be announced and displayed on our website by 30 April 2015.
  • Prizewinners will be notified via email as well as on our web site; please ensure you supply a valid email address with your entry.
  • Prize money will be paid via electronic transfer.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • Entrant must own full copyright of the piece.
  • Writers retain copyright, but give permission for their work to be displayed on our website.
  • The judges' decision is final; no disputes will be entered into.
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within 72 hours, please contact us –your mail may have got lost in transit.
  • SA Writers’ College reserves the right to extend the competition deadline, or cancel the competition should the entries not be of publishable quality or up to the required standard.

Photo credit: Benny Yap
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