World renowned South African author and academic André Brink died on Friday night at the age of 79. It is reported that he died aboard a plane from Amsterdam to Cape Town after suffering a blood clot in his leg. He was returning home from a trip to Belgium, where he had gone to collect an honorary doctorate from the Universite Catholique de Louvain.
André Brink was an influential writer who launched his writing career in 1958 with the publication of Die Meul Teen die Hang (The Mill on the Slope), an Afrikaans novel. One of his novels, A Dry White Season (1979), was adapted into a film in 1989. At the time of his death he had written over forty novels in English and Afrikaans. His works have been published in over 30 languages. Throughout his career, Brink won a number of prestigious awards both locally and internationally and was awarded several honorary doctorates in literature. He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature three times. He is known worldwide as an anti-apartheid writer who openly criticized the apartheid government. Some of his novels were banned in South Africa during the apartheid era.
Brink obtained his MA degree in English from the North-West University (Potchefstroom campus) in 1958. The following year he completed MA in Afrikaans. He then went on to do postgraduate research at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. In 1961 he returned to South Africa and joined Rhodes university as a lecturer. At Rhodes he was awarded a Doctor of Literature/Letters in 1975. In 1980 he became the head of the department of Afrikaans and Nederlands. In 1991 he left Rhodes and joined UCT as head of the department of English.
Since the news of Brink’s death surfaced on Saturday, tributes and condolence messages have been pouring in from across the country. President Jacob Zuma said: “We have learned with sadness of the passing of this remarkable and highly regarded scholar and academic. I wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and members of the academic and literary communities. May his soul rest in peace.” The University of Cape Town (UCT) also sent its condolences to Brink’s wife, family and friends. According to a statement released by UCT on Saturday, Brink made extraordinary contribution to the university’s English department and to the South African literature.
Brink is survived by his wife Karina Magdalena Szczurek, four children, and six grandchildren.