- Created: 28 January 2014
CHRIS VAN WYK was born in Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto in 1957. He was educated at Riverlea High School in Riverlea, Johannesburg where he currently resides.
Not only has van Wyk travelled to places such as Swaziland, Russia and England, to attend seminars relating to South African and African literature, but his short stories and poems have been published in Denmark, Germany and France, to name a few.
During the literary explosion among black writers that followed the Soweto uprising in 1976, van Wyk published a volume of poetry titled It Is Time to Go Home. This collection won the 1980 Olive Schreiner Prize. Characterized by the language of defiance and assertion it employs, the book comprises poetry by van Wyk alongside fellow Soweto poets.
In 1980, van Wyk co-founded the Wietie magazine. Providing a literary platform for the prevailing philosophy of Black Consciousness, Wietie gave voice to a new generation of South African writers who saw their work as a critique of oppressive systems and a weapon for transformation. The publication was forced to close down shortly after inception, due to its political content and litigious nature. Van Wyk was also editor of the South African literary magazine Staffrider from 1980 to 1985.
Van Wyk is a full-time writer of poetry, books for children and teenagers, short stories and novels. He has written books for neo-literate adults, such as My Cousin Thabo, among others, biographies of Sol Plaatje and Oliver Tambo for teenagers and adaptations of works by Bessie Head and Can Themba.
His novel Shirley, Goodness And Mercy – a childhood memoir, about different anecdotes from his childhood, became a bestseller and was turned into a successful play.
Of his writing inspirations, van Wyk comments: “I watch TV, water a plant, chat to a friend, walk down a road and BOOM; suddenly there is an idea for a story in my head.”
Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch, Picador Africa (Pan MacMillan), 2010
Shirley, Goodness and Mercy – a childhood memoir, Picador Africa (Pan MacMillan), 2004
Sergeant Dlamini Falls in Love, ViVa Books, 1996
My Cousin Thabo, ViVa Books, 1995
It is time to go home, AD Donker, 1979