Siya Kolisi’s inspirational autobiography, Rise (written in conjunction with Boris Starling), has been shortlisted for a prestigious Sports Book Award in the International Autobiography of the Year category.
Rise, which is Siya’s story in his own words, was released in October 2021, so many of you may have read it already. If you haven’t, I would highly recommend it. It is exceptionally well-written, and one of the best rugby autobiographies I have read in a while – I raced through it in just two days. While we may all be familiar with some elements of Siya’s story at this stage, having heard from him and others about the challenges he encountered growing up, Rise provides new insights and new details that will really make you stop and think. In some ways, it’s the classic rags to riches tale, but Siya is also not shy to open up about his own demons, and definitely doesn’t claim to be perfect, going into detail about his struggles with alcohol and the challenges in his relationship.
Of course, there is also plenty of rugby detail. Plenty. Some of the Springbok captain’s more significant games are described in such fantastic detail that if you didn’t watch them at the time, you’ll feel like you did. It’s a story of a great love affair between a man and his country, his sport, and his teams. It’s also an ode to how South Africans can work together to overcome the challenges we face (without being remotely preachy), and addresses important issues of poverty, inequality, substance abuse, gender-based violence, and so much more. It’s one of those books that every South African should read, whether they love rugby or not (although obviously, everyone should love rugby…).
The UK’s Sports Book Awards have been celebrating the best sports writing and the most outstanding sports books of the previous calendar year since 2002. Along with International Autobiography of the Year, other categories include Rugby Book of the Year, Autobiography of the Year (Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Cricket Book of the Year, Football Book of the Year, and Best Sports Writing of the Year, among others. While some categories are decided entirely by the panel of judges, which includes sports writers, leading pundits, TV commentators, and players, others, like the International Autobiography of the Year include votes from the public. You can vote for Rise here (you can click through the other categories if you don’t wish to cast a vote in each one).