Bio: Masande Ntshanga is the winner of the 2013 PEN International New Voices Award. He was born in East London in 1986 and grew up between Mdantsane, Zeleni, Bhisho, King William's Town, Estcourt, Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town. He 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 and an NRF Freestanding Masters scholarship. His debut novel, The Reactive, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House.
What it's about: Set in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa in the early nineties, Space is a window into the friendship of four school boys who discover a mysterious grey man.
Read it for: A thoughtful exploration of adolescence and the politics of education, sexuality, illness and family life.
My mother had banned video games at my house, citing a collective stink that stormclouded over a pile of our report cards, but even the homeland soldiers no longer excited anything in us, their jaws and manners just as rigid as the statues that kept vigil over the suits who worked in Parliament Hill. I mean, they never shot their guns.
So we shoplifted at the local OK Bazaar, which stood just across the street from the Amatola Sun Hotel, where the glass turnstiles were inviting but often kept us from slinking in and walking passed the casino, our bare feet moving us from the cold white marble and onto the lush red carpet, then through to the back where—just before the swimming pool where we saw the first white woman in our lives—they had a new Street Fighter machine glowing in the corner for only five bob a game.
At OK, during our short career there, I managed to nab a Bruce Lee poster and a Spider Man figurine; CK scored himself two twin sliver revolver BB guns. Then, one cold Saturday in the middle of April, one guy who wasn’t in our gang, this chubby laaitie who didn’t go to school with us down at the local, got caught and carried wailing into a dark room at the back of the supermarket. I don’t need to tell you which idiot’s parents were there. CK and I dropped everything we’d stuffed on ourselves and walked out slowly. We’d heard about the bald security guards who waited in that back room with their batons and shell-toe boots. They’d been put on the Earth to sort out precisely guys like us.
Each shortlisted writer receives £500 and the winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, on Monday 6 July. Each of these stories has been published in New Internationalist’s Caine Prize 2015 Anthology which is available here.