André Brink

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André Brink

Brink in Lyon, 2007
Brink in Lyon, 2007
BornAndré Philippus Brink
(1935-05-29)29 May 1935
Vrede, South Africa
Died6 February 2015(2015-02-06) (aged 79)
on a flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to South Africa
Alma mater
Notable works

André Philippus Brink OIS (29 May 1935 – 6 February 2015) was a South African novelist, essayist and poet. He wrote in both Afrikaans and English and taught English at the University of Cape Town.[1][2]

In the 1960s Brink, Ingrid Jonker, Etienne Leroux and Breyten Breytenbach were key figures in the significant Afrikaans dissident intellectual and literary movement known as Die Sestigers ("The Sixty-ers"). These writers sought to expose the Afrikaner people to world literature, to use the Afrikaans language to speak out against the extreme Afrikaner nationalist and white supremacist National Party-controlled government, and also to introduce literary modernism, postmodernist literature, magic realism and other global trends into Afrikaans literature. While André Brink's early novels were especially concerned with his own opposition to apartheid, his later work engaged the new questions of life in South Africa since the end of National Party rule in 1994.


Brink was born in Vrede, in the Free State. Brink moved to Lydenburg, where he matriculated at Hoërskool Lydenburg in 1952 with seven distinctions, the second student from the then Transvaal to achieve this feat and studied Afrikaans literature in the Potchefstroom University of South Africa. His immense attachment with literature carried him to France from 1959 to 1961, where he got his degree from Sorbonne University at Paris in comparative literature.

During his stay, he came across an undeniable fact that changed his mind forever: black students were treated on an equal social basis with other students. Back in South Africa, he became one of the most prominent of young Afrikaans writers, along with the novelist Etienne Leroux and the poet Breyten Breytenbach, to challenge the apartheid policy of the National party through his writings. During a second journey in France between 1967 and 1968, he hardened his political position against Apartheid and began writing both in Afrikaans and English to enlarge his audience and outplay the censure he was facing in his native country at the time.

Indeed, his novel Kennis van die aand (1973) was the first Afrikaans book to be banned by the South African government.[3] André Brink translated Kennis van die aand into English and published it abroad as Looking on Darkness. This was his first self-translation.[4] After that, André Brink wrote his works simultaneously in English and Afrikaans.[5] In 1975, he obtained his PhD in Literature at Rhodes University.

In 2008, in an 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.[6]

Brink died on a flight from Amsterdam to South Africa, having visited Belgium to receive an honorary doctorate from the Belgian Francophone Université Catholique de Louvain.[7] He was married five times. Brink's son, Anton Brink, is an artist.[8]




  • A Fork in the Road (2009)


  • Languages of the Novel: A Lover's Reflections (1998)

See also[edit]

  • Evarcha brinki, a South African jumping spider, named after Brink in 2011


  1. ^ Cowell, Alan (7 February 2015). "André Brink, South African Literary Lion, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  2. ^ "André Brink - Literature". Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  3. ^ Brink, André (11 September 2010). "A Long Way From Mandela's Kitchen". New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2012. One of my novels had the dubious distinction of being the first book in Afrikaans to be banned under apartheid.
  4. ^ Brink, André (2003): "English and the Afrikaans Writer" in: Steven G. Kellman Switching languages. Translingual writers reflect on their craft. University of Nebraska Press, p. 218.
  5. ^ "A Chain of Voices (review)". Archived from the original on 15 September 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  6. ^ For better or worse The Economist. 12 February 2009
    Between staying and going The Economist. 25 September 2008
  7. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (7 February 2015). "André Brink, anti-apartheid novelist and campaigner, dies aged 79". The Observer. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  8. ^ "anton brink". South African Artists. Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2008.
  9. ^ "The Booker Prize 1978". The Man Booker Prize. 1978. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  10. ^ Carolyn Turgeon, "A Dry White Season" at

External links[edit]