Monday, October 13, 2014

CHRIS VAN WYK (1957 - 2014)


 By Raphael Mokoena

"An amiable, warm man passionately in love with the world of writing"  This was the impression I got of Chris van Wyk at a workshop on literature we both attended some years ago.     

Chris van Wyk was a much more versatile writer than he was perhaps given credit for. His early publications like It is time to go home (poetry, 1979) and A message in the wind (fiction 1982) underlined his talent. And of course he went on to publish many other works primarily aimed at youngsters.

But The year of the Tapeworm (1996) is very much an adult novel. Autobiographical works like Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, and, Eggs to lay and Chickens to Hatch have been quite acclaimed.

One of the outstanding highlights of van Wyk's writing career was the publication of an abridged version of Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom for children - a work adults can easily read and learn
a lot from too.       

For many others, van Wyk's magnum opus might well be his long list of books - biographies of famous
Southern African people - for teenagers. They include:

* Oliver Tambo.      * Helen Joseph.      * Chris Hani.        * Steve
Biko.        * Walter Sisulu.     * Yusuf Dadoo.       * Lilian Ngoyi.
     * Nelson Mandela.    * Bram Fischer.      * Desmond Tutu.      *
Mohandas Gandhi.   * Cissie Gool.       * Albert Luthuli.    * Robert
Sobukwe.    * Thabo Mbeki.       * Sol Plaatje.       * John Dube.
    * Joe Slovo.         * Winnie Mandela.    * Ruth First.

Chris van Wyk won many awards for his extensive writing, including the Olive Schreiner Prize, Masker Miller Longman Literature Award, and the Sanlam Literary Award.

Other works by van Wyk.

My cousin Thabo.

Take a chance

My name is Selina

April in the Cape of Storms

Sergeant Dlamini falls in love

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