Magogodi oaMphela Makhene is working on a collection of short stories, Innards, focusing on everyday South Africans, inspired by her Soweto hometown. “I am concerned with literature written from the inside out of the black African experience—beyond the white gaze and colonialism’s long shadow. This writing uses the singular and the particular to connect readers with universal human truths. I hope my writing helps readers more fully grasp the vast, layered and beautiful complexity that is the human experience on the African continent.” Her stories have been published in Granta, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, and Guernica. Her nominator writes, “Magogodi’s short stories are fearless and brilliant, an important exploration of the political, social and psychological pressures upon the people of South Africa. She writes dense, startling prose with a tremendous integrity that can be felt on the page.”
Makhene has also begun work on a novel about Tisquantum, also known as Squanto, the Wampanoag First Nation translator, and the twin histories of slavery and trade in the U.S. and South Africa. She holds degrees from Neumann University, N.Y.U. and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow and won the David Relin Prize for Fiction. She was a finalist for the 2017 Caine Prize and recipient of a MacDowell Colony fellowship. Makhene will use her Writer’s Award to focus on her work for the next year, including research travel to Cape Town and Amsterdam. She lives in New York State.