Happy Birthday, Marlene van Niekerk, born 10 November 1954
- Read non-fiction. History, biology, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology. Get a bodyguard and do fieldwork. Find your inner fish. Don’t publish too soon. Not before you have read Thomas Mann in any case.
- Learn by copying, sentence by sentence some of the masters. Copy Coetzee’s or Sebald’s sentences and see what happens to your story. Consider creative non-fiction if you want to stay in South Africa. It might be the way to go.
- Never neglect back and hamstring exercises, otherwise you won’t be able to write your novel. One needs one’s buttocks to think.
- So it is a risk, this business of writing. One starts by setting in motion certain forces of which you are not the master – forces of language, forces of the unconscious – and then focus as best you can while you hurtle through space.
- I was hoping to write something that would confound me.
Marlene van Niekerk is a South African author who is best known for her novel Triomf. Her awards include the Hertzog Prize for Agaat in 2007, the Ingrid Jonker Prize for Sprokkelster in 1978, the Hertzog Prize for Kaar in 2014.
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