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Albie Sachs scoops top non-fiction award for his book The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law, published by Oxford University Press

Posted on 25 July 2010 by Phillipa Mitchell

Former Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs on Saturday night (24 July 2010) won the coveted Alan Paton Literary Award for his book The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law, published by Oxford University Press.

The award is presented annually to the non-fiction work of an author which represents “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power; compassion; elegance of writing; and intellectual and moral integrity”.

Justice Sachs accepted the award at the Sunday Times Literary Awards banquet in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

“Albie Sachs writes in a lucid, accessible way about his experiences. Strange Alchemy is thought-provoking and challenging, and we are delighted that the judges for this non-fiction award have recognized his contribution in this work,” said Lieze Kotzé, Managing Director of Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law was shortlisted along with four other South African titles: Ways of Staying by Kevin Bloom; A Fork in the Road by André P Brink; Begging to be Black by Antjie Krog, and The Honour to Serve: Recollections of an Umkhonto Soldier by James Ngculu.

In his book, Justice Sachs conveys in intimate fashion what it was like to be a judge in post-apartheid South Africa. He tells how his extraordinary life influenced his approach to the cases brought before him, and gives his views on the nature of justice and its achievement through law.

The book provides unique access to an insider’s perspective on modern South Africa, and a rare glimpse into the working of a judicial mind.

Justice Sachs played an important role in drafting South Africa’s post-apartheid Constitution. He was appointed by former President Nelson Mandela to be a member of the country’s first Constitutional Court, and over the course of his fifteen-year term on the bench, grappled with the major issues confronting modern South Africa, and the challenges posed to the fledgling democracy as it sought to overcome the injustices of the apartheid regime. He retired from the Constitutional Court in February 2010.

Contact details for Justice Albie Sachs:

Contact Susan Rabinowitz
082 654 3826

Contact details for Oxford University Press Southern Africa:
Lieze Kotzé Managing Director
(021) 596 2300

About The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law, ISBN 978 019 957179 6

The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law is his fascinating and honest account of how his own thinking, emotions and experiences contributed to some of the most startling, original, adventurous, far-reaching and moving decisions taken by any court in the world.”
Marcel Berlins. The Guardian, UK.

“If I still had responsibility for the English judiciary I would encourage every judge for whom I was responsible to read this book. I am sure it would improve their understanding of what the job really involves and what justice is about . . . “
Lord Woolf, Formerly Lord Chief Justice of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This book is available from Red Pepper Books for R220.00. Click here for more information…

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