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SA literary prize winner's joy

11 July 06 16:53 GMT

South Africa's Mary Watson has expressed her delight at winning one of Africa's leading literary awards, the Caine Prize for African writing.

"That I've made my family proud really means so much to me," she told the BBC.

She says the prize and her $10,000 (£5,426) winnings will help her ambitions to become a fulltime writer.

The judges said her short story from a child's point of view about social relationships in post-apartheid South Africa was "powerfully written".

Ms Watson is the seventh winner of the Caine Prize. It can be awarded to an African writer who has been published on the continent or elsewhere.

The chairperson of the judges, Nana Wilson-Tagoe, said it had been a stiff competition.

But she said Ms Watson's story Jungfrau (virgin or maiden) had pushed the boundaries setting it above the four runners-up.

"It really does what the short story should do - that is leave enough spaces around itself so that a reader can enter into those spaces over and over again and find new meaning," she told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"There are several occasions when things are not what they appear on the surface and this is a very skilful thing."

Ms Watson said it was a wonderful feeling to win, especially to think that her family would be so excited.

"At a more practical level, it is probably helpful in terms of my career as a writer. My ambition is to one day focus on writing fulltime and hopefully this is a step in that direction," she said.

Ms Watson lives and works in Cape Town and is working on her first novel.


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