About Patricia Schonstein

Photo Copyright © Claudio Di Lucia www.claudiodilucia.com

Meet the author

I live in Cape Town and may never be able to leave because of the wind which I love. I own a collection of Shona pots and a cabinet of curiosities including shells, feathers, quills, fossils, seed pods, tea cups and shards of old china. Opera, theatre, art exhibitions and wilderness give me great pleasure.

I am a novelist, poet, author of children’s books and curator of anthologies.

My novels variously employ magical-realism, meta-fiction, speculative fiction and narrative fiction.

They are filled with works of art, delicious food and fine fabrics. They tantalise and leave readers hungry for banquets or just a simple meal of bread, cheese and wine.

Interiors are moody, evocative and furnished with a curator’s eye. Urban and natural landscapes seem painted or photographed, yet the sound of wind and traffic, bird-song and the ringing of bells can be heard.

The characters range from paramour to rogue, angel to devil, seducer to temptress, magician to innkeeper. Artists, soldiers, nuns, archivists, morticians, vintners, asylum seekers and soothsayers meet and mingle on the pages, acting out dramas that are at once improbable and ‘everyday’.

Between them, the characters grapple and generally triumph over the human conditions of addiction, longing and despair. They war, make peace, betray, forgive and ponder the meaning of life.

You will find love, sensuality, Shakespearean touches and many passions in my work, but also numerous questions. Without detracting from the pace of each unfolding narrative, I place, at its centre, a kernel of ponderables concerning ethical light and darkness, intolerance, the recurrence of war and genocide, and our abuse of the natural world.

These questions are debated and considered, with or without resolution, by my characters as they dine at sumptuous tables, drink wine, gamble or act out their tense dramas.

Despite their cores of dark matter, my novels explore the triumphs of the human heart over adversity, exposing hope and a sense of beauty.

My own satisfaction as an author comes from knowing that I have created worlds real enough for my readers to step into and enjoy while not shying away from deep questions about life.

Ultimately, if I have succeeded, through these fictions, in highlighting the futility of war and the need to engender peace, not only amongst ourselves but also towards the earth, then I would consider this to be my greatest achievement as an author.

Professional Profile

  • MA Creative Writing, University of Cape Town (2003)
  • Diploma Business Acumen for Artists, University of Cape Town (2011)
  • Director of African Sun Press (1990— )
  • Poetry in McGregor Committee Member (2016— )
  • Poet in Residence, David Krut Projects, Cape Town (2016-2018)
  • Deputy Editor of Stanzas–A quarterly of new poems (2015-2020)

Awards & Commendations:


  • 2007 Women’s Agricultural Union Overvaal (Gauteng) “Writer of the Year”
  • 2005 Prix du Marais (France): Skyline
  • 2002 Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Award: Skyline
  • 1997 Maskew Miller Young Africa Award: Short Story: Love at His Majesty’s

Second Prize

  • 2004 Sunday Times Literary Award for Fiction: A Time of Angels
  • 2001 Sunday Times Literary Award for Fiction: Skyline

Short Listed

  • 2011 The Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Africa Best Book: Banquet at Brabazan
  • 2004 Nielsen BookData/Booksellers Choice ‘Book of the Year’: A Time of Angels
  • 1993 The Green Trust Environment Award

Long Listed

  • 2011 Sunday Times Literary Award: Banquet at Brabazan
  • 2007 Sunday Times Literary Award: A Quilt of Dreams
  • 2005 Sunday Times Literary Award for Fiction: The Apothecary’s Daughter
  • 2002 Impac Dublin Award: Library nomination and long listed: Skyline


  • 2014 Sunday Times Read your way through democracy: The Apothecary’s Daughter
  • 2010 Exclusive Books HomeBru: Banquet at Brabazan
  • 2007 Centre for the Book’s ‘Must Read’ South African Books: Skyline
  • 2007 IBBY SA 100 Representative list: Skyline
  • 2006 Exclusive Books HomeBru Top 9 Fiction: A Quilt of Dreams
  • 2003 SACBF Honour: A Gathering of Madonnas
  • 2000 SACBF Honour: Skyline
  • 1998 White Ravens: Saturday in Africa
  • 1995/96 SACBF Honours: Saturday in Africa
  • 1994 SACBF Honours: Ouma’s Autumn
  • 1993 Bookchat Children’s Books of the Year List: We call the whales
  • 1992 Bookchat Children’s Books of the Year List: The King who loved birds
  • 1991 Bookchat Children’s Books of the Year List: Thobile’s dream
  • 1990 Bookchat Children’s Books of the Year: Sing, Africa!


  • 2014 Bookchat Book of the Month June: Maggie Mango & Scottie
  • 2006 En bok for alla (Sweden): Skyline
  • 2006 En bok for alla (Sweden): Skyline