A KING William's Town-born author, Masande Ntshanga, has been shortlisted for the inaugural PEN International New Voices award.
Ntshanga, the only African to be shortlisted for his short story, Space is in the running with two other young, unpublished writers, who are from Mexico and Canada.
He said he had only a few weeks to come up with a story. It is about a group of boys in Bhisho who are told by their friend about "a man who isn't a man, one sent down to Earth from a distant place".
Ntshanga, who holds an honours degree in English studies from the University of Cape Town (UCT), said he was at home when he received the e-mail about being shortlisted.
"I was excited. One is always pleased when your work is recognised by peers and other writers that you admire so there's definitely a feeling of satisfaction that comes with an acknowledgement that you might've succeeded in communicating something.
"In terms of career it means a lot of exposure, both in terms of getting myself out there as a writer, as well as me personally being exposed to a lot more people and places I would not have been to otherwise."
Ntshanga, also holds a film and media production degree from UCT, said he had extensive writing experience. "I've worked as a music and film journalist, both full time and as a freelancer. I still contribute music journalism to Rolling Stone South Africa.
"I also spent some time in Boston on a Fulbright scholarship to do research on African literature," he said, adding, "it's hard to say what my chances are.
"The other entries are both really good, but of course, one hopes for the best."
Ntshanga said he was working on a short novel set in Cape Town, through UCT's Masters Creative Writing programme.
"It's called The Autobiographies of Presidents.
"It follows three 'semi-employed' friends who come up with an interesting way to make money between the city and the township.
"I hope it says a few interesting things about terminal illness, technology, memory, and indigenous culture in South Africa," Ntshanga said.
SA PEN vice-president Margie Orford said they were thrilled because there were so many entries from around the world, and the South African competition was very tough.
The winner will be announced at the 78th PEN international congress on September 11 in Iceland.