Encyclopedia of African Literature

By Simon Gikandi | Go to book overview

V

van Niekerk, Marlene

b. 1954, Caledon, South Africa

poet and writer

This Afrikaans author (see Afrikaans literature) grew up in the Caledon district of the Western Cape. Her literary and philosophical interests led to theses on Nietzsche (at the University of Stellenbosch), and Lévi-Strauss and Ricoeur (at the University of Amsterdam), and she has taught at the universities of Zululand, Unisa, the Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch. She made her debut with award-winning lyrical poetry in Sprokkelster (Gleaned Star) (1977) and the more satiric Groenstaar (Glaucoma) (1983), then changed to prose writing. The ten stories in Die vrou wat haar verkyker vergeet het (The Woman who Forgot Her Binoculars) (1992) were the preamble to her forceful multi-layered, often crude but hilariously funny novel Triomf (1994), named after the white Johannesburg suburb which arose from the debris left after the forced removal of the previously multiracial settlement of Sophiatown under apartheid (see apartheid and post-apartheid). Triomf is the story of an incestuous poor white family that plans survival strategies while awaiting the apocalypse they expect as a result of the 1994 democratic elections. The novel has won several prestigious prizes, including the Noma Prize for Publishing in Africa, and has been translated into various languages.


Further reading
Gräbe, I. (1996) "Brutalization of Cultural and Universal Values in Marlene van Niekerk's Triomf" in H. Hendrix (ed.) The Search for a New Alphabet , Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamin.

ENA JANSEN


van Wyk, Chris

b. 1957, Soweto, South Africa

poet and writer

This South African author was born in Soweto and began writing while still at school. His first collection of poems, It is Time to Go Home, was published in 1979 and was awarded the Olive Schreiner Prize in 1981. He also writes short stories, novels, children's books, and easy-to-read booklets for adults who are learning to read English. A teenage novel, A Message in the Wind, was published in 1982 and in the same year was awarded the Adventure Africa Award. His short story, "Relatives," published in 1995, won the Sanlam Award for that year. His novel The Year of the Tapeworm was published in 1996. His short stories and poems have been published in the USA, Canada, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, and Holland. A few of his poems have been anthologized, e.g. "Beware of White Ladies when Spring is Here" and "The Border" in Michael Chapman's The Paperbook of South African

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