The 10 finalists for a prestigious literary award were announced at the University of Cape Town yesterday.
Boerehaat author and British darling Marlene van Niekerk’s “uncompromising look” at poor Afrikaans communities has netted her a place in the finals of the Man Booker International Prize.
The award is a complement to the Man Booker Prize, recognising an author’s body of work rather than a single book of fiction. It is the first time the finalists have been announced in Africa.
The international award takes place every second year and the winner – who takes home £60000 (about R1-million) – will be announced on May 19 in London.
“Marlene van Niekerk is the author of two immense masterpieces, Triomf and Agaat, which chart in evocative, sometimes disturbing detail the aches and aggravations of political transition in South Africa for those who saw themselves as on the losing side, in particular impoverished Afrikaners,” the judges exalted.
“Van Niekerk’s vision is ambitious, uncompromising and irrefutable. The bold experimentalism of her Afrikaans takes the reader deep inside the contortions of the apartheid psyche and asks whether some historical hurts and hatreds can ever be entirely erased.”
Van Niekerk “explores” Afrikaner “in-breeding”, a well-known British insult often directed towards the Irish, and other competing groups, but in this case with no foundation in reality as even poor Afrikaners generally shun anti-family values. The novel Triomf offers more of an awkward look into wishful English stereotypes and real denial.
Oxford University English professor Elleke Boehmer, who is one of the judges in the awards, also heaped exaggerated praise on Van Niekerk’s anti-Afrikaner drivel. Boehmer, also a lesbian, lauded the “richness and pungency of language, and an extraordinary demotic range”.
Most readers hated the book steeped in the author’s alarming lack of self-awareness. The film version of Triomf was a resounding flop.