I was deeply saddened at the news over the weekend of the passing of renowned South African writer, André Brink. Brink’s writing had such a great influence on me, an Afrikaans girl from a small town in the Western Cape. I first discovered Brink’s literature in the mid-90’s which was around the same time I started writing poetry.
My small town was commissioned to get our first ‘real’ library in the 90s. Prior to that, we used a section of the local town hall as a library. But with the new library came a whole lot of new books, including some of the best in Afrikaans literature. We revelled in Afrikaans legends including Brink, J. M. Coetzee, François Bloemhof, Breyten Breytenbach and even books from Ingrid Jonker’s poetic masterpieces. I’ve spent many hours of my teenage life reading from the pages of these great writers.
Strangely enough, it was, however, with English literature that I’ve fallen in love with.
Brink’s writing, together with the other great Afrikaans writers, was one of the many reasons I fell in love with writing in the first place. His books would change the course of my life in more ways than he would ever know. And for that I would forever be indebted to him.
May you rest in peace, son of the soil.