Two books, by openly gay judge Edwin Cameron and journalist Adam Levin, have jointly won this year’s prestigious Alan Paton Non-Fiction Award for South African writing.

Both books deal with the subject of AIDS. Witness to Aids tells of Cameron’s experience of being a high ranking figure in public office while grappling with his HIV status. AidSafari explicitly recounts journalist and author Adam Levin’s own journey of coming to grips with the HI virus, his sexuality and mortality.

After a lengthy deliberation the five person panel of judges decided that both books were equally deserving of the prize.

“The judges believed strongly that both Levin and Cameron displayed exceptional integrity and bravery in laying bare the intimate details of their experience, their struggle and the resolution of their personal crises, as public testimony. As such both works were of immense value at a time when the de-stigmatisation of AIDS continues to be one of the most critical defences in the fight against this disease in South Africa and throughout Africa,” said Sunday Times Literary Awards convenor, Michele Magwood.

The R50 000 Fiction Prize was awarded to Coldsleep Lullaby – a murder mystery set in Stellenbosch – by Cape Town advocate, police reservist, and former liberation activist Andrew Brown. This is only his second published novel. Brown’s book was up against works by Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee and Andre P Brink.

The winners were announced at a gala dinner on Saturday at the inaugural Cape Town Book Fair.

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