Kopano Matlwa's picture

Kopano Matlwa


South Africa (b.1985)

Kopano Matlwa (born 1985) is a South African writer known for her novel Spilt Milk, which focuses on the South Africa's "Born Free" generation, or those who became adults in the post-Apartheid era and Coconut, her debut novel, which addresses issues of race, class and colonization in modern Johannesburg. Coconut was awarded the European Union Literary Award in 2006/07 and also won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa in 2010. Spilt Milk made the long list for the 2011 Sunday Times Fiction Prize.

Matlwa is influenced by her youth when writing. She was nine or 10 years old in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa, and she told NPR that she remembers it as an "exciting time": "We were the 'Rainbow Nation,' and kind of the 'golden children' of Africa." As she grew up, however, she says that sense of hope and newness fell away to the reality of a corruptible government.She is also a physician, who wrote her first novel, Coconut, while completing her medical degree.Matlwa has been cited as the emerging voice of a new generation of South African writers, dealing with issues such as race, poverty and gender.Coconut has been noted for its exploration of women's appearance, including the political aspect of black women's hair.