Award helps Matlwa to fame

Kopano Matlwa's star is definitely on the rise and getting brighter.

In a week that went famously well for her, she launched her latest book, Spilt Milk , in Cape Town and jetted off to Lagos, Nigeria, to receive an award for another - her debut novel Coconut .

Coconut, which earned the medical graduate the European Union Literary Award 2006-07, received rave reviews from the reading public.

These were clearly not flukes since the book has now gained her more kudos as joint winner of the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.

Matlwa shares the $20000 (R150000) prize with Nigerian national Wale Okediran, whose book Tenantsof the House, ran neck and neck with Coconut.

An elated Matlwa said: "I feel very blessed and grateful to God for winning this award. Its great to know that people from different parts of Africa are starting to read our books."

At the ceremony, held at the Civic Centre in Lagos on Friday last week, Matlwa gushed about meeting Soyinka, the man after whom the awards are named: "It was a privilege because he is a Nobel Prize winner."

The founders of the Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, established in 2005, say "it was conceived as a prestigious prize in honour of Africa's first Nobel Laureate in literature to celebrate excellence in all its cerebral grace, its liberating qualities, the honour and recognition it brings to a myriad of people, of diverse cultures and languages".

The prize honours "Africa's great writers and causes their works to be appreciated".

Matlwa, a Rhodes Scholar of the class of 2009, has certainly arrived.