Cynthia Jele


Cynthia Jele, winner of the this year's Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book in the Africa region for her novel Happiness Is a Four-Letter Word, is no newcomer to accolades. In 2008 she won first and fourth prizes in the BTA/Anglo-Platinum short-story competition, a literary contest run by literacy activist Beulah Thumbadoo. But the Commonwealth prize is easily the most significant award to date for this Catholic schoolgirl from KwaZulu-Natal. "When you've written a book that is classified as �chick-lit' you're made to believe that your book is not of literary importance. The award is definitely something the genre needs.� Jele, who graduated with a BTech in public health from the then Natal Technikon, spent six years in the US, where she completed a BA in international business at North Central College in Illinois. Given her predilection for winning prizes, it's safe to say that the Commonwealth Writers' Prize isn't the last that will come her way. � Percy Zvomuya