Chris van Wyk
(19*-) Writer. Born in Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto, and lived his early years in Newclare. Van Wyk has written over 20 books, including poetry collections and children's books. His book of poems It's Time to Go Home won the Olive Schreiner Award in 1979, and individual poems have been published in Europe, Turkey, the US and Canada. From 1980 to 1985 he edited the important South African literary magazine Staffrider. In 1998 he received the Sanlam Prize for the best South African short story, Magic. In 2003 he published a series of biographies for children and young teens under the series title Freedom Fighters and later a biography, Now Listen Here: The Life and Times of Bill Jardine. His novels include The Year of the Tapeworm and Shirley, Goodness and Mercy (2005), short-listed for the Alan Paton award. The award-winning play, based on his work, was directed by Janice Honeyman in 2007. Christopher van Wyk was born in Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto in 1957. He was educated at Riverlea High School in Riverlea, Johannesburg, where he lived until 2005. He writes children’s books, novels and poetry. Van Wyk worked as a clerk for the independent South African Committee for Higher Education (SACHED) as an educational writer of accessible literature for new readers. He was also editor of Staffrider from 1981 to 1986 and in 1980 started the short-lived Wietie magazine with Fhazel Johennesse. During the literary explosion among black writers that followed the Soweto uprising in 1976 van Wyk published a volume of poetry, It Is Time to Go Home (1979), that won the 1980 Olive Schreiner Prize. The book is characterized by the preoccupations of other Soweto poets such as Mongane Serote, Sipho Sepamla, and Mafika Gwala and employs the language of defiance and assertion in poetry that reveals at all times the Black Consciousness of the era. It shows also the particular wit and humour that is present in all van Wyk's writing. In 1981 he received the Maskew Miller Longman Award for black children's literature for A Message in the Wind (1982), the story of two boys who travel in their homemade time machine to their shared tribal past of 1679. Other children's stories include Peppy 'n Them (1991) and Petroleum and the Orphaned Ostrich (1988). He has written books for neo-literate adults, such as The Murder of Mrs. Mohapi (1995), My Cousin Thabo (1995), Take a Chance (1995), My Name is Selina Mabiletsa (1996), and Sergeant Dlamini Falls in Love (1996), biographies of Sol Plaatje and Oliver Tambo for teenagers, and adaptations of works by Bessie Head, Sol Plaatje, and Can Themba. He won the 1996 Sanlam Literary Award for his short story Relatives, published in Crossing Over (1995). The Year of the Tapeworm (1996) is an adult novel and warns of government control of the media. His latest work is a novel called Shirley Goodness And Mercy which is about different anecdotes from his childhood, this novel was published by Picador Africa.
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