Happiness is a Four-Letter Word won numerous prizes (Best First Book category (Africa region) in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011 and 2011 M-Net Literary Award in the Film category) and was adapted into a film released in South African in 2016. The Ones with Purpose was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize (2019) and UJ Prize for South African Writing in English (2019). It has been long-listed for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award.
Jele also writes shorts stories and multiple forms of writing, while contributing to the promotion of reading and writing in South Africa.
In an interview with Go.See.Do Jele gave some advice to aspiring writers.
Q: Advice to aspiring writers (apart from “I hope you come from wealth”).
A: Lol! Start writing now, remember there is never a perfect moment to start. Also read, a lot – I’ve learned so much from other writers through their books. I recently came across this tweet by writer, Sulaiman Addonia, “Dear so-called aspiring writer: yes, read read read. But. Not just books: read people, read eyes, read music, read paintings, read the air, the sea, the trees, the lakes, the sun, the moon & the stars. Read the universe” (I LOVE this). Well articulated. Aspiring writers on Twitter can also check my pinned tweet. I try to put valuable information on writing there @jelecynthia.Cynthia Jele as interviewed by Go.See.Do Africa
You can also find out more about her writing process in this interview with the Lagos Review.