Country: South Africa
Why We Love Her: Kopano broke onto the literary scene, at only 21, with her debut novel, Coconut winning both the EU Literary Award 2006/7 and the Wole Soyinka Joint Prize for Literature in 2010. The book gave a voice to young modern girls dealing with complex ideas about identity, body politics and race relations in post-Apartheid South Africa. She broached these topics through the story of the contrasting lives of Ofilwe and Fikilwe, one rich and one poor, but both struggling to be themselves within society’s narrow confines. Her book was a bestseller and really added value to a book scene that was missing some fresh perspectives.
Kopano has continued to write expressively and elegantly in her next offering, Spilt Milk written while completing advanced studies in medicine. Period Pain, a new novel is forthcoming with the cover being released only a month ago. We look forward to a long and interesting career from this bright young talent.
“Tshepo reckons that it is inevitable that one’s circle of friends will become smaller as one grows older. He reasons that when we begin we are similar, like two glasses of water sitting side by side on a clean tray. There is very little that differentiates us. We are simple beings whose interests do not extend beyond playing touch and kicking balls.
However, like the two glasses of water forgotten on a tray in the reading room, we start to collect bits. Bits of fluff, bits of a broken beetle wing, bits of bread, bits of pollen, bits of shed epithelial cells, bits of hair, bits of toilet paper, bits of airborne fungal organisms, bits of bits. All sorts of bits. No two combinations the same. Just like with the glasses of water, Environment, jealous of our fundamentality, bombards our basic minds with complexity. So we become frighteningly dissimilar, until there is very little that holds us together.”
― Kopano Matlwa,