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Author Focus

André P. Brink
Biographical info

André Philippus Brink (29 May 1935 - 6 February 2015) was born in Vrede in the Free State. He matriculated in 1952 at the Lydenburg High School and studied BA at Potchefstroom University. He obtains his MA degree in both English (1958) and Afrikaans (1959) cum laude. He then left for Paris, where he studied comparative literature at the Sorbonne University. In 1961 he was appointed as lecturer at the Department of Afrikaans-Nederlands at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

(Read an obituary by Kerneels Breytenbach.)

In 1962 Lobola vir die lewe apearred and is considered to be his debut. With Breyten Breytenbach, he was one of the key figures in the Sestiger movement. He was head of the Afrikaans-Nederlands Department at Rhodes University from 1980 to 1990. He was then appointed to the English Department at the University of Cape Town, and later became professor emeritus in English at the university.

André P. Brink was one of the most versatile figures in the South African literary industry: novelist, dramatist, travel writer, translator, littérateur, critic and academic. His novels were translated in more than 30 languages, including Serbo-Croatian, Japanese, isiXhosa and Vietnamese. He has been awarded the Hertzog Prize twice (2000 and 2001).

Did you know?

·

Kennis van die aand was banned in 1974 and later unbanned in 1982, after a court case and a lot of publicity. The criticism against Kennis van die aand was harsh. The Reverend Koot Vorster, a fierce opposer, infamously said, "If thís is literature, then a brothel is Sunday-school."

·

In 1975 the English version of Kennis van die aand, Looking on Darkness, became the first of Brink's books to appear in America. Efforts were made to have 'n Oomblik in die wind declared "undesirable" in October 1976. For months, an embargo was placed on Gerugte van reën. The censure applied by the South African government resulted in him writing his novels simultaneously in Afrikaans and English.

·

He was shortlisted twice for the Booker Prize: in 1976 for An Instant in the Wind and in 1978 for Rumours of Rain, as well as the Nobel Prize for literature several times since 1979.

·

In 2005 he played himself in the TV soap opera 7de Laan, of which he was a great fan.

·

A Dry, White Season was filmed starring in the leading roles Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando, who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

·

He translated over 60 books from world literature into Afrikaans, including Alice se avonture in wonderland, Die vindingryke ridder Don Quijote de la Mancha, Mary Poppins in Kersieboomlaan, Hedda Gabler en Die wind in die wilgers. He also translated Dan Sleigh's award-winning novel, Eilande (Islands) in 2004. In 2007 he translated a collection of Ingrid Jonker's poems with Antjie Krog titled Black Butterflies.

·

He held honorary doctorates from the Universities of the Witwatersrand (1985), Free State (1997), Pretoria (2003), and the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve (2015).

Author bookshelf

Prose
(Published by Human & Rousseau)

Philida
(2012)
Herinneringe aan Parys
(Re-issue), 2012
Ander lewens: ’n roman in drie dele
 (2008)
Met 'n glimlag (2006)
Die ambassadeur  (2006, re-issue as part of Klassieke-series)
Bidsprinkaan (2005)
'n Droë wit seisoen (1979, 2005)
’n Oomblik in die wind (2005)
Houd-den-bek (1982, 2005)
Kennis van die aand (2004, re-issued as part of the Klassieke-series) 
Anderkant die stilte (2002)
Donkermaan (2001)

Compiler
Groot Verseboek, Tafelberg (2008)

Awards

Eugène Marais Prize (1963) – Caesar: ’n drama
Reina Prinsen-Geerligs Prize (1963) – Lobola vir die lewe
CNA Prize (1965) – Olé
Akademie Prize for translated work (1970) – For his translation of Alice in Wonderland
CNA Prize (1978) – Rumours of rain
Martin Luther King Memorial Prize (1980) – A Dry White Season
Prix Médicis étranger (1980) – For the French translation of A Dry White Season
CNA Prize (1982) – A Chain of Voices
Mondello Five Continents Prize for World Literature (1997) – Imaginings of Sand
WA Hofmeyr Prize (1999) – Duiwelskloof
Hertzog Prize for drama (2000) – Die jogger
Hertzog Prize for prose (2001) – Donkermaan
Commonwealth Prize for Literature (African region) (2002) – The Other Side of Silence
Sunday Times/Alan Paton Fiction Award (2002) – The Other Side of Silence
University of Johannesburg Prize for Creative Writing (2006) – Bidsprinkaan
M-Net Prize (2006) - Bidsprinkaan
Jan Rabie & Marjorie Wallace Scholarship (2010)
Médaille Grand Vermeil De La Ville. Awarded by the City of Paris, France, to leaders with exceptional influence (2013)

List of titles

Novels
1958 Meul teen die hang
1959 Die gebondenes
1960 Eindelose weë
1962 Lobola vir die lewe
1963 Die ambassadeur
1965 Orgie
1969 Miskien nooit
1973 Kennis van die aand
1975 'n Oomblik in die wind
1978 Gerugte van reën
1979 'n Droë wit seisoen
1982 Houd-den-bek
1984 Die muur van pes
1988 Die eerste lewe van Adamastor
1988 States of Emergency
1991 Die kreef raak gewoond daaraan
1993 Inteendeel
1995 Sandkastele
1998 Duiwelskloof
2000 Donkermaan
2002 Anderkant die stilte
2004 Voor ek vergeet
2005 Bidsprinkaan
2006 Die Blou Deur/The Blue Door
2008 Ander lewens

Plays
1959 Die band om ons harte
1961 Caesar
1962 Die koffer
1965 Bagasie (Koffer, Tas, Trommel)
1965 Elders mooiweer en warm
1970 Die verhoor
1970 Die rebelle
1971 Kinkels innie kabel
1973 Die bobaas van die boendoe
1973 Afrikaners is plesierig
1974 Pavane
1976 Die hamer van die hekse
1979 Toiings op die langpad
1997 Die jogger
 
Travel writing
1962 Pot-pourri: sketse uit Parys
1963 Sempre diritto
1965 Olé
1969 Midi
1969 Parys-Parys Retoer
1970 Fado
2012 Herinneringe aan Parys (Re-issue)

Other works

1961 Bakkies en sy maats – 1 Die Bende (youth novel) 1963 Die Verhaal van Julius Caesar
1965 Bakkies en sy maats – 2 Platsak
1965 Rooi (5 short stories with Hennie Aucamp, Jan Rabie, Freda Linde en Uys Krige) 1973 Portret van die Vrou as 'n Meisie
1973 Die geskiedenis van oom Kootjie Emmer van Witgatworteldraai
1973 Brandewyn in Suid-Afrika
1974 Dessertwyn in Suid-Afrika
1974 Die klap van die meul
1974 Die wyn van bowe
1981 'n Emmertjie wyn (short stories)
1983 Oom Kootjie Emmer en die nuwe bedeling
1984 Loopdoppies (short stories)

Omnibusses

1982 Die fees van die malles (humour)
1986 Mal en ander stories
1990 Latynse reise (travel sketches)
2006 Met 'n glimlag

Compilations

1977 Oggendlied: 'n Bundel vir Uys Krige op sy Verjaardag
1979 Klein Avontuur (Top Naeff)
1986 A Land Apart: A South African Reader (with J.M. Coetzee)
1994 SA 27 April 1994
1995 27 April – One Year Later/Een Jaar Later
2000 Groot Verseboek
2008 Groot Verseboek

Autobiography

2009 A Fork in the Road (Harville Secker)

Translations

Lobola vir die lewe (1966) Dutch
Die ambassadeur English (File on a Diplomat: 1967, 1985, 1986)
Finnish (1985)
French (1986)
Norwegian (1986)
Swedish (1986)
Dutch (1987)
Spanish in Brazil (1991)
Greek (1992)
Polish (1994)
Kennis van die aand English (Looking on Darkness: 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1988),
Turkish (1975)
Dutch (1976, 1986,1990)
Swedish (1976)
Finnish (1976)
Japannese (1976)
French (1976, 1977, 1978, 1981)
Spanish in Mexico (1979)
Hungarian (1980)
Czech (1982)
Romanian (1983)
Greek (1988)
Danish (1989)
Hebrew (1990)
German (1991)
’n Oomblik in die wind English (An Instant in the Wind: 1976, 1992)
Norwegian (1977)
Finnish (1978)
French (1978)
Dutch (1978)
Swedish (1978)
German (1981, 1983, 1988, 1989)
Czech (1981)
Danish (1981)
Russian (1982)
Spanish in Argentina (1983)
Slovakian (1985)
Greek (1986)
Hebrew (1986)
Turkish (1987)
Italian (1988)
Polish (1992)
Gerugte van reën English (Rumours of Rain: 1978, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1988, 1994)
Dutch (1979, 1988)
Swedish (1979, 1980, 1983)
French (1979, 1986)
Russian (1981)
Hungarian (1982)
Norwegian (1982)
Spanish in Brazil (1983)
Finnish (1983)
Bulgaars (1985)
Lithuanian (1986)
Greek (1986)
Hebrew (1986)
Danish (1990)
'n Droë wit seisoen English (A Dry White Season: 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1989)
French (1980, 1982, 1992)
Swedish (1980, 1983)
Dutch (1980, 1987, 1989, 1990)
Norwegian (1981, 1989)
Russian (1981)
Finnish (1981, 1988, 1992)
Czech (1983)
Slovakian (1983)
Spanish in Brazil (1983)
Hebrew (1984)
German (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989)
Danish (1986, 1987)
Albanian (1986)
Portugese in Brazil (1986)
Estnies (1988)
Italian (1989)
Polish (1989)
Japannese (1990)
Greek (1990)
Turkish (1991)
Vietnamese(1997)
Xhosa (1991)
Houd-den-bek English (A Chain of Voices: 1982, 1983)
Danish (1982)
Finnish (1982)
French (1982)
Norwegian (1983)
Swedish (1983, 1986)
Turkish (1983)
Dutch (1983, 1988, 1994)
Russian (1985)
Spanish in Brazil (1985)
German (1985, 1986, 1987)
Czech (1986)
Die muur van die pes English (The Wall of the Plague:1985)
Finnish (1984)
French (1984)
Norwegian (1984)
Swedish (1984)
Danish (1985)
Dutch (1985)
Spanish in Brazil (1986)
German (1988)
Hebrew (1988)
Greek
Portugese in Brazil; (1991)
Die eerste lewe van Adamastor English (The First Life of Adamastor: 1993, 2000)
Danish (1993)
Dutch (1993)
French (1993)
Swedish (1993)
Italian (1994)
Die kreef raak gewoond daaraan English (An Act of Terror: 1991)
Danish (1991)
French (1991)
Norwegian (1991)
Swedish (1991)
Finnish (1992)
Greek (1995)
German (1996)
Inteendeel English (On the Contrary: 1993, 1994)
French (1994)
Danish, Dutch (1994)
German (1994, 1996)
Norwegian (1994)
Finnish (1995)
Spanish (1995)
Swedish (1995)
Sandkastele English (Imaginings of Sand: 1996, 1997)
Danish (1996)
Dutch (1996)
French (1996)
German (1996)
Norwegian (1996)
Italian (1997)
Swedish (1997)
Duiwelskloof English (Devil’s Valley: 1998, 2000)
Donkermaan English (The Rights of Desire: 2000)
Dutch
Anderkant die stilte English (The Other Side of Silence: 2002)
German (Die andere Seite der Stille)
Dutch
French
Italian
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
Greek
Voor ek vergeet English (Before I Forget: 2005)
Bidsprinkaan English (Praying Mantis: 2005, 2006)
Ander lewens English

Reviews

“Brink enlivens this cautionary tale of religious fundamentalism with magical flights of fancy, earthy humour and some exotic soap recipes, including one involving hippo fat, which promises to leave your laundry ‘not your everyday white, but white as the inside fibres of a sheep's best wool’. Quite dazzling, in fact.” – Alfred Hickling on Praying Mantis, The Guardian (2006)

The Other Side of Silence is a novel of unforgettable power… It is testimony to Brink's novelistic skill that Hanna's pain is so vivid.'” – Ruth Franklin, The New York Times (2003)

“And whoever reads this lyrical, deeply moral novel cannot expect to remain unmoved.” – Roger Boylan on The Rights of Desire, Boston Review (2001)

A Chain of Voices makes most of the fashionable junk that parades as advanced fiction today look bad. It is the best novel I've read since Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise, and I don't imagine it will be soon before we see a better one.” - Julian Moynahan, The New York Times (1982)

A dry white season demonstrates André Brink's continuing refinement of his ficitonal technique, without sacrificing any of the poignancy that his previous books have led us to expect.” – Mel Watkins, The New York Times (1980)

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