North Central College - Naperville, IL

Alumna Cynthia Jele wins Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

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Alumna Cynthia Jele wins Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

March 7, 2011—North Central graduate and author Cynthia Jele has won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the Best First Book in the African region for her novel “Happiness is a Four-letter Word.”

Jele earns a trip to the Sydney Writers Festival in May, when her book will compete against finalists from other Commonwealth regions for two overall best first book awards.

Jele was born in South Africa and grew up in the small border town of Mpumalanga. She graduated from North Central in 2003 with a bachelor of arts in international business. She is employed as a management consultant and lives in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Her novel is about four ordinary friends living life in the fast and fabulous lanes of Johannesburg. However, each finds herself facing her own problems. Each discovers that life is not a bed of roses, and that happiness never comes with a manual.

Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, chair of the Africa region judges, said of Jele’s novel: “This book is an enthralling read about human frailties, conflicts and sometimes difficult resolutions in the search for happiness. It is a well-plotted story with all the varied conflicts seeing satisfactory endings. Emerging novelist Cynthia Jele has demonstrated a talent that should take her far.”

Jele also won first and fourth place in the 2008 BTA/Anglo-Platinum Short Story Competition.

International business is among 55 undergraduate majors offered at North Central.
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