Penguin Random House South Africa and South Africa at large mourns the loss of André Brink, an author whose momentous presence on the local and international literary stage will be sorely missed.
From Umuzi’s inception, André was intimately involved with the imprint. His novella The Blue Door was commissioned to mark the advent of Umuzi in 2006. It was followed in 2010 by the novel Other Lives. There was great excitement when André signed a two-book contract with the imprint in 2011.
Days before his death, he was working on the first of the two books, a historical novel with the working title Gold Dust. The date of completion had been set for February 2016. The novel will remain unfinished. A second book will, however, be published later in 2015, a collection of letters between André and the poet Ingrid Jonker, with whom he had a relationship in the sixties. Not only did André’s writing leave its mark on Umuzi, but he also promoted the work of younger writers actively.
Steve Connolly, Managing Director of Penguin Random House in South Africa, said: “We are devastated at the loss of one of the country’s great storytellers. André’s voice will remain with us forever, despite his leaving us so sadly.” Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.
I can still vividly remember the first time I heard of André P. Brink. It was during one of my Modern Fiction Lectures at my Alma Mater Rhodes University. I remember how Dr Meintjies spoke so reverently of André P. Brink who had been a member of staff in the 1960s and then from 1980 to 1990 and his ability to write his books in both English and Afrikaans simultaneously.
I was quite intrigued, but I am ashamed to say that at the time of writing this post I have yet to read any work by Brink in either English or Afrikaans. I am therefore not able to do my own moving eulogy on him as so many have done since hearing of his passing on Saturday.
I can only say that this loss has spurred me on to read more South African fiction as we have a plethora of amazing local talent which I tend to glance over in favour of international bestsellers.
My Read Local project will be in tribute to South Africa's most prolific writer. Rest in Peace André P. Brink.