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Famous South African Authors


There have been numerous famous South African authors over the years. Today we will be covering 2 of them, continuing the post series of Famous South Africans on this blog. I hope this post aides in the process of educating the outside world about South Africa. South Africa has a rich community of writers and journalists. South Africa has 11 official languages, making it a country rich with language diversity.

Nadime Gordimer: Born in November 1923 in the Springs area, Gauteng, on the East Rand, a mining town just outside Johannesburg. Famous for writing 14 novels, including A Guest of Honour, The Conservationist, Burger’s Daughter, July’s People, The Pickup and most recently Get A Life which was published 2005. Nadime Gordimer also published 11 short story collections, most recently Loot published in 2003. Her writings have mostly dealt with racial and moral issues.

She was an active member of the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. She became a member of the African National Congress or ANC when it was still listed as a banned organization by the South African government. She was a friend to the Nelson Mandela’s legal team at his trial in 1962. When Madiba (Nelson Mandela) was released from jail in 1990, Nadine Gordimer was one of the first people he wanted to see. Over the years she has received international acclaim and rewards for her works.

She also has honorary degrees at universities around the world, including Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Cambridge and various others. She was also awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1991.

Alan Paton: Born in 1903 in Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu Natal province. He attented Maritzburg College. After this he earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Natal in his hometown. After obtaining his degree he also obtained a diploma in Education. As a teach, Alan Paton first worked at the Ixopo High School. He later moved on to a high school in Pietermaritzburg. Between 1935 and 1948 he was the principal of the Diepkloof Reformatory for young (African) offenders. He volunteered for service in World War II, but was refused.

After the war, he undertook a self-paid trip around the world to tour correctional facilities around the world. During this trip, Alan Paton toured Scandinavia, England, continental Europe, and the USA. He started and completed his famous novel Cry, the beloved country whilst being on this trip. Maxwell Perkins (who formerly had edited works by Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe) guided Alan Paton’s first novel to publication. Cry, the beloved country was published 4 months before the separatist Nationalist Party came into power in South Africa in 1948. Paton formed the South African Liberal Party in 1953, opposing the Nationalist government’s policy of Apartheid.

He was the party leader until it was forcefully dissolved by the South African government in 1960s. Alan Paton was known for her peaceful resistance to the Apartheid system. Some of the party members were a bit more violent and direct. This resulted in Paton’s passport being confiscated in 1960 when he returned from a trip to New York. The government only gave his passport back 10 years later. He retired to Botha’s Hill. He resided there until he died in 1988.

Cry, the Beloved Country has been made into 2 movie versions. 1 in 1951 and 1 in 1995 (starring James Earl Jones). Alan Paton also wrote Too Late the Phalarope, The Land and People of South Africa, South Africa in Transition, Debbie Go Home, Tales from a Troubled Land, Hofmeyer, Spono, The Long View, Instrument of Thy Peace and a few other novels. To honor his contribution, the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction is presented annually.

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