The Jakes Gerwel Foundation that strives to promote literature in the widest sense possible is presenting, together with NB Publishers, an exciting new mentorship programme for emerging writers. This project kicks off for the first time this year and aims to bring new voices and stories on to the South African literary scene. The focus is on fiction and non-fiction that explore local issues in both English and Afrikaans.
With this mentorship programme the Jakes Gerwel Foundation and NB Publishers want to give promising young writers whose work has not yet been published the opportunity to hone their skills and develop their manuscripts under the guidance of experienced mentors. The aim is further to prepare manuscripts that have been submitted to the publisher, but that still need to be perfected, for publication. In this way we lend our support to emerging writers on the difficult journey to publication in order to transform each unique story with loads of potential into a publishable book.
The writers that have been selected for the programme will meet regularly with the mentors at the Jakes Gerwel Foundation’s newly restored writer’s house in Somerset East where they will work collectively on their books. They will also communicate about the writing with their mentors on an individual basis. The duration of the mentorship programme is one year and all related expenses will be paid by the Foundation.
The first writers to take part in this programme are Bronwyn Davis, Engela Ovies, Shana Fife and Sharon Mogoaneng. The manuscripts sent to the publisher by these writers are diverse and each has a unique perspective – from the memories of Davis and the Northern Cape love story of Ovies to Fife’s detective story set on the Cape Flats and Mogoaneng’s novel about love and loss.
The mentors are seasoned editor Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh and bestselling writer Francois Bloemhof.
Bloemhof says about this project: “For a country’s literature to continue to thrive there must always be new writers stepping forward – people with different stories to tell. I’m looking forward to assisting our new wordsmiths and will be pleased if they could benefit from some of the things I’ve learned over the years.”
Kotzé-Myburgh is equally thrilled at the prospect of taking part in this project: “Due to the high costs of professional mentoring it seldom, if ever, happens that talented and aspiring young writers get a chance such as this one – with this initiative the Jakes Gerwel Foundation fills a huge gap in the South African literary world.”
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