None spared in Leon de Kock's intimate biography of André P Brink

He narrates the ups and downs of Brink's five marriages and his compulsive affairs with a great number of women

30 April 2019 - 13:07
'The Love Song of André P Brink' subjects Brink’s literary legacy to a bracing scholarly re-evaluation, making this major new biography a crucial addition to scholarship on Brink.
'The Love Song of André P Brink' subjects Brink’s literary legacy to a bracing scholarly re-evaluation, making this major new biography a crucial addition to scholarship on Brink.
Image: Jonathan Ball Publishers

The Love Song of André P Brink is the first biography of this major South African novelist who, during his lifetime, was published in over 30 languages and ranked with the likes of Gabriel García Márquez, Peter Carey and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Leon de Kock’s eagerly awaited account of Brink’s life is richly informed by a previously unavailable literary treasure: the dissident Afrikaner’s hoard of journal-writing, a veritable chronicle that was 54 years in the making.

In this massive new biographical source – running to a million words – Brink does not spare himself, or anyone else for that matter, as he narrates the ups and downs of his five marriages and his compulsive affairs with a great number of women. These are precisely the topics that the rebel in both politics and sex skated over in his memoir, A Fork in the Road.

De Kock’s biographical study of the author, who came close to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, not only synthesises the journals but also subjects them to searching critical analysis.

In addition, the biographer measures the journals against additional sources, both scholarly and otherwise, among them the testimony of Brink’s friends, family, wives and lovers.

The Love Song of André P Brink subjects Brink’s literary legacy to a bracing scholarly re-evaluation, making this major new biography a crucial addition to scholarship on Brink.

Leon de Kock is a translator, poet, novelist and scholar. His most recent book is Losing the Plot: Crime, Reality and Fiction in Postapartheid Writing. His translation of Triomf by Marlene van Niekerk earned him the South African Translators Institute award for outstanding translation. His rendering into English of André Brink’s love letters to Ingrid Jonker in Flame in the Snow won the SALA award for literary translation and the English Academy of Southern Africa’s Sol Plaatje Prize for Translation. He lives in Cape Town.

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