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Witsies shine at 9th Humanities and Social Sciences Awards

- Wits Alumni Relations

Books by alumni honoured for their impact and highlighting neglected voices.

Several Wits alumni were shortlisted and among the winners of the 9th Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Awards hosted by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) held on 14 March 2024 at the Javette Art Centre at the University of Pretoria.The Ghost of Sam Webster

The awards recognise members of the broader community who “are undertaking the necessary work of creating post-apartheid and post-colonial impact of the Humanities and Social Sciences and its capacity to shape the world.”  

Craig Higginson (BA 1994, BA Hons 1995, MA 2010, PhD 2018) was the winner in the Best Fictional Novel category for The Ghost of Sam Webster (Picador Africa, 2023). It is “a war novel, a murder mystery, a multi-layered love story and a robust reassertion of what it is to remain human during the most challenging times”. At Fire Hour (Jacana, 2023) by Barry Gilder (BA 1972, BA Hons 1972, MA 2018) was shortlisted in this category. 

Dawn Garisch (DOH 1986) was the winner in the Best Fiction: Short Stories category for What Remains (Karavan Press, 2023). What Remains by Dawn GarischShe told Alumni Relations: “I am very grateful for the award, as the money supports my writing life, buying me time to follow the story. I am working on a collection of poetry and a memoir. Several novels are jostling in the background.” Her novel Breaking Milk (Karavan Press, 2019) has recently been published in the UK. As a practising general practitioner and founding member of the non-profit Life Righting Collective, Dr Garisch’s work is part of a growing international medical humanities movement where the arts and social sciences have conversations about wellbeing.
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Peaches and SmeetsAshti Juggath (MSc Med 2008) was a joint winner in the Best Fiction category: Emerging Author for Peaches and Smeets (Modjaji Books, 2022). Juggath is a pharmacist based in Johannesburg and this is her first novel, written because “stories of the past need to be captured for posterity.” Judges said: “This is a serious contribution and offers insights into ‘ordinary and neglected’ voices on the pain and experiences of apartheid in South Africa. This will be appreciated by all South African communities.” Meanwhile, Jarred Thompson (MA 2022) and Michael Boyd (PGCE 2014, MA 2021) were shortlisted in this category for The Institute for Creative Dying (Picador, 2023) and The Weight of the Shade (Karavan Press, 2023) respectively.