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Brink, André

south african afrikaner politics

(South African, 1935– )

Born in the South African free state, Brink spent much of his youth in Paris, where he became actively involved in left-wing politics. Politicized by his travelling, he returned to South Africa and began a highly successful writing career. Brink was one of a new generation of Afrikaner writers who broke with tradition by openly criticizing the ruling Afrikaner Nationalist Party. In A Dry White Season (1979) Brink exposes the brutality of the South African police force towards its black citizens. Given that the leader of the black consciousness movement, Steve Biko, was murdered in 1977 under police detention, many people understandably believed that Brink based his novel on Biko's story. In 1989 A Dry White Season was made into a successful film starring Marlon Brando and Donald Sutherland.

One of Brink's more challenging but enjoyable novels is An Act of Terror (1991). Beginning with the attempted assassination of the South African president in 1989, Brink weaves a complex narrative saturated in mythology and South African politics. Imaginings of Sand (1996) pivots around the historic multi-racial elections of 1994. Through the central character, an Afrikaner expatriate who has returned to his country, Brink explores the fear, anger, anticipation, and political extremes displayed during the move towards democracy. Brink is currently Professor of English at the University of Cape Town.

J. M. Coetzee, Alan Paton, Nadine Gordimer  EW

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