Kopano Matlwa is an inspirational young South African woman who has already achieved more than most of us dream of achieving in a lifetime. She has completed her medical degree, won a scholarship to complete her masters at Oxford University in the UK, and written two award-winning novels.
The eldest of Matsobane and Ingrid Matlwa’s three children, Kopano was born at the Mamelodi Day Hospital in Pretoria in 1985. While studying for her bachelors in medicine and surgery at UCT, the energetic Kopano made the time to follow in the footsteps of her heroine author, Toni Morrison, and wrote her first novel. She started writing about two young women growing up in contemporary South Africa in December 2003, after discussions with her sister Tumelo made her realise the important and uncomfortable issues people should consider.
Several rejection slips from publishers later, just as her manuscript was doomed to languish in a drawer while she set off on other pursuits, her debut novel Coconut - a fascinating view into the lives and issues of South African youth living in the modern post-apartheid era - won an EU Literary Award and a publishing contract with Jacana Books, when Kopano was just 21. Coconut, published in 2007, also won Kopano the JD Baqwa merit award.
Her highly acclaimed novel is a now set book, used as a teaching tool in many South African schools and several universities, and won the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature in 2010.
Kopano completed her second book Spilt Milk before she graduated from medical school in 2010 - and made it onto the prestigious long list for the 2011 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, although she didn’t get onto the short list.
Some of the books by Kopano Matlwa: