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André Brink (André Philippus Brink) Biography

(1935– ), (André Philippus Brink), Looking on Darkness, Kennis van die aand, File on a Diplomat

south afrikaans africa african

South African novelist and playwright, born in Vrede, educated at the University of Potchefstroom and at the Sorbonne. The extension of his cultural and political horizons as a student in Paris led Brink to declare: ‘I was born on a bench in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, in the early spring of 1960.’ While his many plays are in Afrikaans, his novels are generally written and published in both Afrikaans and English, with the English versions translated by himself. They have encountered trouble with the censor in South Africa for their open attacks on apartheid. His seventh novel, Looking on Darkness (1974; in Afrikaans, Kennis van die aand, 1973) was also the first book in Afrikaans to be banned. His translation of his fourth Afrikaans novel, File on a Diplomat (1967), was later published as The Ambassador (1985). Criticism of sensationalism should be qualified by the fact that Brink himself views Afrikaner society as being in a state of apocalyptic danger, a fear which he courageously confronts in his own novels. Two of his most effective novels are the powerful A Chain of Voices (1982), its multiple narratives dealing with a historical slave rebellion on an Afrikaner farm in the Cape in 1825, and States of Emergency (1988), its background being the ‘deranged year’ of 1985, when rebellion flared throughout South Africa, and a state of emergency was declared. Other novels which explore the Afrikaner psyche include Rumours of Rain (1978); A Dry White Season (1979); The Wall of the Plague (1984); An Act of Terror (1991), a thriller exploring an attempted assassination of the South African president; The First Life of Adamastor (1993), which makes use of Camões' myth of demonic love and suffering and Khoi myths of creation to allegorize the roots of racial schism in South Africa; On the Contrary (1993), in which Brink makes use of Quixotic legends and eighteenth-century South African conflict in his examination of Afrikaner consciousness; Imaginings of Sand (1996) looks at South Africa's past and anticipates its future following the 1994 elections. With J. M. Coetzee he edited an anthology of contemporary South African writing, A Land Apart (1986). Essays are collected in Mapmakers: Writing in a State of Siege (1983).

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