South Africa’s great novelist dies

According to Books Live, Brink passed away while returning from Belgium on Friday, where he had received an honorary doctorate from the Belgian Francophone Université catholique de Louvain (UCL).

Brink was born in Vrede, in the Free State. He married five times in his lifetime.

He moved to Lydenburg and matriculated at Lydenburg High school in 1952 with seven distinctions, the second student from the then Transvaal to achieve this achievement.

In the 1960s he, Ingrid Jonker and Breyten Breytenbach were key figures in the significant Afrikaans literary movement known as ‘Die Sestigers’ (‘The Sixty-ers’).

These writers sought to use Afrikaans as a language to speak against the apartheid government, and also to bring into Afrikaans literature the influence of contemporary English and French trends.

His novel ‘Kennis van die aand (1973)’ was the first Afrikaans book to be banned by the South African government.

André Brink translated ‘Kennis van die aand’ into English and published it abroad as ‘Looking on Darkness’. This was his first self-translation.

After that, André Brink wrote his works simultaneously in English and Afrikaans.

While Brink’s early novels were especially concerned with apartheid, his later work engaged the new range issues posed by life in a democratic South Africa.

In 2008, in an eerie echo of a scene from his novel ‘A Chain of Voices’, his family was beset by tragedy when his nephew, Adri Brink was murdered in front of his wife and children in their Gauteng home.

He died on 6 February 2015 on a flight from Belgium, where he had received an honourary doctorate from the Belgian Francophone Université Catholique de Louvain, to South Africa.

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