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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Thursday 10 November 2005

Neil Bennun

RSB interviewee Neil Bennun has been shortlisted for the Booktrust The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. The prize ("one of Britain's oldest and most prestigious literary awards") was founded over 60 years ago to recognise "fine young writers early in their careers from biographers, novelists and historians to travel writers, dramatists and poets."

The shortlisted books are: Neil's The Broken String; Anthony Cartwright's The Afterglow; Colin McAdam's Some Great Thing; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus; Rory Stewart's The Places In Between; and Jonathan Trigell's Boy A.

About the The Broken String:

The first people of South Africa, Stone-Age hunters and gatherers from the mountains and the arid flats of the interior, did not survive the arrival of settlers from Europe. Within decades an ancient world of sorcerers, hunters and artists was lost forever, along with the stories they told.

We would know next to nothing of their myths, their beliefs or the rituals that governed their lives if it were not for six bushmen, five of whom had been sentenced to hard labour in a Cape Town prison in 1869. Released into the country home of a Prussian linguist and his English born sister-in-law, they were invited to teach their language and to share a previously unknown world on the verge of extinction. Over the next 18 years they worked together to capture this lost world of myths, songs, pictures and moving personal histories. The notebooks answer questions about ancient rock art and describe the awful tragedy of a vanished people.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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