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Biography of Marlene VAN NIEKERK

South Africa > Literature : Marlene VAN NIEKERK

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Born on 10/11/1954 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Marlene Van Niekerk born November 10, 1954, is a South african outstanding intellectual philosopher and writer. She studied  language and Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch, where she completed a Masters’ Degree in 1978.

She is best known for her novel Triomf. Her graphic and controversial descriptions of a poor Afrikaner family in Johannesburg brought her to the forefront of a post-apartheid society, still struggling to come to terms with all the changes in South Africa.
She explains that the portraying the separation of the sexes in her work is the result of being "outside the main arena" as an Afrikaaner lesbian.

In 1979, she moved to Germany to join theatres in Stuttgart and Mainz as an apprentice for directing. From 1980 – 1985, she continued her studies of Philosophy in Holland and obtained a Doctoral Degree with a thesis on the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Paul Ricoeur: 

Ms van Niekerk has lectured Philosophy at the University of Zululand, and later at the University of South Africa, and thereafter became a lecturer in Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of the Witwatersrand. Ms van Niekerk is now Professor of Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Stellenbosch.

She has made a significant contribution as an award-winning poet, novelist and short-story writer and boasts an impeccable publi¬cation record. Her publications include the short-story collection, The Woman Who Forgot Her Spyglass, the novella, Memorandum, and the novels, Triomf and Agaat.

In particular the novel, Triomf, translated by Leon de Kock, reflects on the post-colonial South Africa, showing how apartheid failed to benefit even those it was also designed to serve, namely the white population. This work was a New York Times Notable Book in 2004, and won the CNA Literary Award, the M-Net Prize in South Africa and the prestigious Noma Award.

Triomf was the first Afrikaans novel to win this prize. Also, its film adaptation, directed by Michael Raeburn, won the Best South African Film Award at the Durban International Festival in 2008. In 2007, Agaat received the Sunday Times Literary Prize and the Hertzog Prize and was translated as The Way of the Women by Michiel Heyns, who received the Sol Plaatje Award for his translation.

Last update : 05/03/2012

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