Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Wednesday, 28 February 2024 20:47

Award-winning author Adams thankful to Pan Macmillan for 2024 Chris van Wyk Bursary.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

In a significant nod to her outstanding contribution to literature, the award-winning author and digital content specialist, Terry-Ann Adams (31), is awarded the prestigious 2024 Chris van Wyk Bursary.

Since its launch in 2014 to honour Chris van Wyk's inspiring writing legacy, the bursary has been awarded annually to support postgraduate candidates in Creative Writing at the University of the Witwatersrand. Van Wyk, the author of Shirley, Goodness and Mercy (2004) and Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch (2010), as well as several children's books, was posthumously awarded an honorary doctorate from Wits in 2019. He passed away in 2014.

"We are thrilled to acknowledge Terry-Ann, who has set a high standard of storytelling that is intricate, engrossing and compelling. We are excited about the new possibilities that the Chris van Wyk Bursary will unlock for her," says Andrea Nattrass, publisher at Pan Macmillan South Africa. 

Terry-Ann's academic prowess is proven by her journey, which began at the University of Pretoria, where she completed a BA in Humanities with distinction and an BHCS Honours in History. Her passion for exploring diverse narrative is reflected in her research essay on the history of disability representation in American film in the 70s and 90s.

"I am deeply honoured," says Terry-Ann who is currently a first-year Master's student in Creative Writing at Wits. "This recognition is not just a testament to my journey as a writer but also an incredible support for my future projects. I am immensely thankful to Pan Macmillan for this opportunity and to my readers, whose unwavering support continues to inspire my creativity. It motivates me to succeed even further."

Part of the Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2023 cohort for Arts and Entertainment, Terry-Ann has an impressive list of literary achievements. Those Who Live In Cages (2020) was longlisted for the Humanities and Social Sciences Awards (2021) and the Sunday Times Literary Awards (2021) and is critically acclaimed for its portrayal of Coloured women and the community of Eldorado Park. White Chalk (2022) was awarded Best Fiction Short Stories at the HSS Awards (2023) and stories from the collection have been taught in universities in South Africa and the US. It has been lauded for its portrayals of coloured identity, queer characters, and its depiction of disabled characters.

"I am a huge fan of Chris van Wyk and often cite him as an inspiration for my work," Terry-Ann says. "He was the first Coloured writer who I read that reflected my reality. He was from Riverlea, a place that I visited often and where some of my family members live. Reading Shirley, Goodness and Mercy changed my life and my thoughts on what writing should look like. I hope my work will bring flavour and colour to the broader literary community. I hope that my contribution makes someone go "oh, I didn't know that!" or "oh, this feels like home".

Previous recipients of the bursary have included Jarred Thompson, Shereen Mills, Lindiwe Nkutha, Bongani Ndlovu, Zanele Makhubo, Tuelo Gabonewe and Lidudumalingani Mqombothi.