With the publication of her first book, If You Keep Digging, Keletso Mopai joined the growing ranks of young, local authors winning wide critical acclaim. The book, a collection of short stories set in South Africa, highlights marginalised identities and looks at the daily lives of people who may otherwise be forgotten.
Mopai says, “My work mostly focuses on social issues that affect South Africans — young South Africans in particular — including domestic abuse, mental health, homophobia, racism, colourism and other issues that I’m passionate about.” Winner of the Igby Prize for Nonfiction for her essay on social anxiety, she’s also been shortlisted for short story prizes such as The Brittle Paper Award for Fiction, The Writivism Prize and The Africa Book Club Competition.
Mopai studied chemistry and geology, and got a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in the latter, both from the University of Limpopo, but for now is planning ahead for a future in literature. How does she see herself in the coming years? “Telling more stories. I believe writing is my purpose and it’s the one thing that motivates me to better myself and to look forward to the future.”
When asked about her successes, Mopai says:
“My proudest moment was seeing my debut book in a bookshop.” As for regrets? “I don’t think I’ve made life-changing mistakes so far, but if I did i think they have worked well for me later in life.”
Considering her plans to continue her studies with a Master’s in Creative Writing, we can only hope to read many more stories by Keletso Mopai in the not-too-distant future. Her advice for aspiring authors is: “Follow your gut, read as many books you can grab, and don’t listen to anyone who discourages your dreams.”