• Short.Sharp.Stories

    A competition for South Africans who write

    Powered by the National Arts Festival

    The Short.Sharp.Stories Award aims to encourage, support and showcase
    established and emerging South African writing talent


    The Short Sharp Stories Award for South African Short Story Fiction is made each year by the National Arts Festival. The theme set for writers changes every year. A panel of independent judges select a shortlist of 20 stories, with the best story winning a cash prize.


    The 2018 winning stories, together with the other shortlisted pieces, have been compiled into an ebook, which is for sale now on Amazon. Go here to BUY THE BOOK

  • BUY the book

    INSTANT EXPOSURE is available for purchase as an eBook from Amazon

  • Instant Exposure

    2018 anthology of winning stories

    Short.Sharp.Stories is an award that seeks out excellence in South African writing, run by the National Arts Festival. INSTANT EXPOSURE is a compilation of the best stories of the 2018 competition.

    Every photograph tells a story. We live in an age in which every one of us has, by default, become a photographer as billions of images are uploaded online at any given moment. We invited writers to find a provocative photograph which inspires a powerful story. A spontaneously captured selfie, a bold news pic, a childhood snap in an old album; perhaps a framed tribute that brings back memories of joy, or a hidden print that haunts their past.

    We looked for stories with strong narrative drive, and characters and settings that reflect the South African experience and diversity – the final outstanding collection of stories will move, inspire, and provoke you.

    As EFEMIA CHELA writes in the foreword: "The creative power of South African writing cannot be underestimated. The texture of our everyday experiences is demonstrated in the broad variety of voices gathered together here. Like a photograph, each story gestures to a world of seen and unseen things. These stories embrace the unexpected, the thought provoking, the mysterious, and all the other things that accrue to writing South African stories. We hope you will find something of your own story in the stories that make up INSTANT EXPOSURE."

    Featured writers: Michael Yee, Stephen Buabeng-Baidoo, Shubnum Khan, Vamumusa Malusi Khumalo, Tiah Beautement, Femi Agunbiade, Martin Botha, Paul Collings, Bernard du Plessis, Chantelle Gray, Lynn Joffe, Donve Lee, Rochelle Mungaroo, Sam Murray, Ambre Nicolson, Thandekhile Ntshangase, Arja Salafranca, Melissa Siebert, Ian Sutherland



  • PAST Anthologies

    Collections of the best stories, released by Burnet Media since 2013

    2017: Trade Secrets

    Whether secrets of State, the workplace or of the family, TRADE SECRETS delivers a range of stories guaranteed to titillate, delight and surprise. We bring you memorable characters and settings that reflect our South African diversity.



    Liesl Jobson, Phakama Mbonambi and Tim Richman.



    Mishka Hoosen, Amy Heydenrych, Ntsika Gogwana, Sally Partridge, Olufemi Agunbiade, Darrel Bristow-Bovey, Megan Ross, Philip Vermaas, Linda Daniels, Pravasan Pillay, Andrew Salomon, Frieda-Marie De Jager, Bobby Jordan, Kamil Naicker, Mapule Mohulatsi, Jumani Clarke, Michael Yee, Stephen Symons, Sally Ann Murray, Kerry Hammerton, Sean Mayne

    The Editor
    Joanne Hichens, is an author, editor and creative writing teacher. She has written three crime fiction novels, as well as Young Adult novels. She has edited seven collections of short story anthologies. She was curator of the SHORT.SHARP.STORIES awards from 2013 to 2017.


    Book details

    Foreword: Yewande Omotoso

    ISBN: 978-0-9946805-3-2

    Publisher: Tattoo Press


    2016: Die Laughing

    DIE LAUGHING is an anthology of wit, satire and humour, with writers poking fun at our crazy country – at our politics, idiosyncrasies and down-right ridiculous habits. A number of stories look on the lighter, brighter side of life, and, of course, dark humour is included too.



    Foreword by our National Treasure, Evita Bezuidenhout and an introduction by Darrel Bristow-Bovey. New voices as well as prize-winning authors, including Greg Lazarus, Gail Schimmel, Fred Khumalo, Stephen Symons, Kobus Moolman, Ofentse Ribane, Barbara Erasmus and Diane Awerbuck


    Other awards

    Winner of the 2016 National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences Award for Best Edited Collection. Two contributors – Bongani Kona and Lidudumalingani – were nominated for the 2016 Caine Prize, with Lidudmalingani selected as the winner.

    The Editor
    Joanne Hichens, is an author, editor and creative writing teacher.


    Book Details
    Foreword: Evita Bezuidenhout
    ISBN / EAN: 9780994680518

    2015: Incredible Journey

    The Book
    INCREDIBLE JOURNEY focuses on a journey, be it political, personal or emotional – and the incredible journeys in this collection vary from road trips to mind trips, and are by turns inspirational, intriguing, and entertaining. The writers on the shortlist all successfully capture uniquely South African voices, and move the reader.


    The Judges
    Henrietta Rose-Innes, Ken Barris and Makhosazana Xaba, with a foreword to the collection by Sindiwe Magona.


    Book details
    Editor: Joanne Hichens
    ISBN / EAN 9781928230182
    Imprint Mercury
    Publisher Burnet Media
    Distributor Jacana

    2014: Adults Only

    The Book

    Within the pages of ADULTS ONLY lies a wonderful range of modern sex writing; stories that are raw, dangerous and powerful, as well as those that are delicate, sensitive and poignant.

    The Contributors

    Foreword by Helena S. Paige, and an introduction by Makhosazana Xaba. Shortlisted authors include Ken Barris, Efemia Chela, Christine Coates, Anthony Ehlers, Chantelle Gray van Heerden, Bobby Jordan, Aryan Kaganof, Donvé Lee, Carla Lever, Justine Loots, Alexander Matthews, Sean Mayne, Wamuwi Mbao, Dudumalingani Mqombothi, Tiffany Kagure Mugo, Nick Mulgrew, Gillian Rennie, Arja Salafranca, Alex Smith, Jo Stielau, Alan Walters, Eugene Yiga.


    Book details

    Editor: Joanne Hichens
    ISBN / EAN: 9781928230007

    2013: BloodySatisfied

    The Book

    BLOODY SATISFIED is a collection of thrilling twist-in-the-tale stories that make good on the ‘Bloody Satisfied’ promise: slick and sexy stories that brim with danger and elements of the sinister; sophisticated stories that focus on the subtler crimes of everyday life; smart stories that invert expectations and linger in the mind.


    The Judges

    Sarah Lotz, Fred Khumalo and John Maytham


    The Contributors

    Dawn Garisch (Best Story), Roger Smith (Best Thriller), T.O. Molefe (Most Original Story), Liam Kruger (Best New Voice), Roger Smith, Yewande Omotso, Peter Church, Greg Lazarus, Nechama Brodie, Chris Nicholson, Osiame Molefe, Luke Fiske, Megan Furniss, Sandile Memela, Dawn Garisch, Peter Merrington, Siphiwo Mahala, Anthony Ehlers, Jill Morsbach, Liam Kruger, Amy Heydenrych, Beth Hunt, Anirood Singh, Andrew Salomon, Mncedise Thambe, Jo Stielau, Colin Ward and Melissa Siebert. Foreword by Deon Meyer and afterword by Michael Stanley.


    Book details

    Editor: Joanne Hichens
    ISBN / EAN: 9780987043733
    Imprint: Mercury

    Publisher: Burnet Media