Saboteur Awards 2018: Spotlight on the Best Novella Shortlist

We are back again for another spotlight, this time on the Best Novella category! Don’t forget to vote for your favourites before 9th May!

Tumours by Chay Collins (Ampersand Publishing)

Tumours follows four companions trekking through a hallucinatory dystopia. As their perceptions shift and the threats around them morph into new forms, they are led into dangerous situations involving monsters, transhuman sex and dalmation bellboys.

Find out more about Chay Collins on their publisher’s website, or follow them on Twitter!

Why voters think it should win:

Incredibly vivid and surreal imagery

Tumours is like nothing I have ever read before. It is weird and excellent!

The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga (Jacaranda Books)

In a city that has lost its shimmer, Lindanathi and his two friends Ruan and Cecelia sell illegal pharmaceuticals while chasing their next high. Lindanathi, deeply troubled by his hand in his brother’s death, has turned his back on his family, until a message from home reminds him of a promise he made years before. When a puzzling masked man enters their lives, Lindanathi is faced with a decision: continue his life in Cape Town, or return to his family and to all he has left behind.

Rendered in lyrical, bright prose and set in a not-so-new South Africa, The Reactive is a poignant, life-affirming story about secrets, memory, chemical abuse and family, and the redemption that comes from facing what haunts us most.

Masande Ntshanga is the winner of the inaugural PEN International New Voices Award in 2013, and a finalist for the Caine Prize in 2015. He was born in East London in 1986 and graduated with a degree in Film and Media and an Honours degree in English Studies from UCT, where he became a creative writing fellow, completing his Masters in Creative Writing under the Mellon Mays Foundation. He received a Fulbright Award, an NRF Freestanding Masters scholarship, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship and a Bundanon Trust Award. His work has appeared in The White Review, Chimurenga, VICE and n + 1. He has also written for Rolling Stone magazine.

Follow him on Twitter!

Why voters think it should win:

The book is an inspiration to the youth due to its relevance in every respect. You Go Masande!!

Best book I have read in the last 5 years

Dead Dogs & Angels by Mickela Sonola (Holland House Books)

Yinka was, as her mother would say when there was no one around but the two of them, in deep shit. She has been transported from a Lagos suburb to the bushlands on the outskirts of her hometown in a vanful of her family’s belongings; now she has to find her way home with only a vague understanding of compass-points and her new friend, Dog. Meanwhile, as her family desperately seek their missing daughter, family bonds begin to splinter and dark secrets are revealed.

Set in Nigeria, the magical tale of a lonely and vulnerable girl who uses her imagination to navigate through a world of deceit, desperation and loss.

Mickela Sonola is a British-born writer and educator with African and Caribbean roots.  She has taught in cafes, schools, libraries, art galleries and a methadone clinic.  Growing up, she lived in England, Nigeria, Zambia and Papua New Guinea and her multicultural childhood and bi-racial home life is reflected in her writing as well as her outlook on life.  She is a narrative junkie and a hoarder of stories and turns of phrases, that eventually drip, drip, drip into her own writing.

Mickela settled back to the Northern powerhouse that is Manchester with her husband and two children.  When she is not writing, teaching or reading.

Follow Mickela on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Why voters think it should win:

Plot takes you in an unexpected direction. Beautifully written you are guided through dark places in a foreign land.

The book has a beautiful narrative, and is able to switch between perspectives without it being overwhelming


Seed by Joanna Walsh (Visual Editions)

Joanna Walsh is the author of seven books of fiction, essays and short stories. Her writing has appeared in many publications including Granta Magazine, The Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction, The LARB and The Guardian. She edits at 3:AM Magazine and She founded @read_women. She is an Arts Foundation Fellow, and University of Manchester Burgess Centenary Fellow.

My shortlisted work, Seed, can be read, free, at

Find out more about her on her website or follow her on Twitter

Why voters think it should win:

Seed is simply extraordinary.

Interactive, fragmented, innovative.

How to Make A Window Snake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Ad Hoc Fiction)

Charmaine Wilkerson was born in New York, has lived in several cities, and does most of her writing in Rome. Her novella, How to Make a Window Snake uses a montage of flash fiction pieces to tell the story of a loving, but deeply-wounded family as they face one of their greatest challenges yet. The story won the 2017 Bath Novella-in-Flash Award.

Follow her on Twitter!

Why voters think it should win:

It’s a tight collection of flash fiction pieces that work well individually but are brilliant together. Really smart work.

From beginning to end, the novella is compelling, descriptive and gripping. A pleasure to see this wordsmith and story teller thrive and succeed. I’ve been watching and reading her for a long time. A star is born!