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ROME, ITALY:  South-African writer John M.Coetzee, award winner of Nobel Prize 2003  of Literature, poses for photographers in Rome, 22 June 2004 during a literature festival. AFP PHOTO/ Tiziana FABI  (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

Top 10 South African Writers 2014


South Africa is one of the most economically stable countries in Africa and it is also home to one of the most renowned authors in the world. Some of its best authors are outlined below.

1. Nadine Gordimer

Born in South Africa in 1923 Nadine has inspired many through her literary works and the Nobel Prize she was awarded in 1992 further shows how much her writing is valued. Having had ten novels and ten short stories under her name, this South African icon is also known for her anti-apartheid activism which is evident in the plots of her writing. She gets her inspiration from world renowned writers such as Dostoevsky and Chekhov. She is no doubt one of the top 10 South African writers. 

Nadine_Gordimer - South African writers

2. John M. Coetzee

This 2003 Nobel prize winner is also one internationally renowned writer from South Africa. In his writing he has clearly pointed out the problems facing his country through the symbolic characters. Issues such as violence, politics, ownership and so on are explored in his writing. Some of his most known works are “Waiting for the Barbarians”, “Disgrace” and many others.

ROME, ITALY:  South-African writer John M.Coetzee, award winner of Nobel Prize 2003  of Literature, poses for photographers in Rome, 22 June 2004 during a literature festival. AFP PHOTO/ Tiziana FABI  (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

ROME, ITALY: South-African writer John M.Coetzee, award winner of Nobel Prize 2003 of Literature, poses for photographers in Rome, 22 June 2004 during a literature festival. Tiziana FABI (Photo credit: TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

3. Peter Abrahams

This 1919 born writer is known as one of the most prolific South African writers / authors and his works depict the racial practices done is South Africa against the South African blacks. His most famous novel “Mine Boy” clearly depicts the oppressive culture of a South African industrial city. He is a great writer and clearly deserves a mention in the top ten.

4. Njabulo Ndebele

This is one author whose novels discuss the way forward for a nation just from the peaks of apartheid and in search of freedom of expression politically and individually. He further depicts the state of poverty in the Cape Town townships and other post-apartheid problems through his writing. It is with good reason that he was awarded Africa’s most esteemed literary accolade, the Noma Award in 1984.

Prof Njabulo Ndebele reflects on his achievements during his inauguration as the new Chancellor - Sanlam Auditorium on Kingsway Campus

Image courtesy of University of Johannesburg

5. Andre Brink

This is one white  South African writer who is known for his candidness in his literary works as he condemns the actions of Nelson Mandela’s successors in the ANC. He openly criticizes the state of South African society and further discusses the sexual and religious topics in a very open way. His works are very interesting to read and very effective eye-openers for anyone blind to the faults of society.

More South African Writers That Have Become Famous Around the World


6. Antje Krog

Born in 1952 into a family of Afrikaner writers, Antje first wrote a famous poem for her school magazine which was clearly anti-apartheid and managed to scandalise her own Afrikaans- speaking community. She is famously known for her books “Country of my skull” and “A change of Tongue”. Her works mostly speak about the struggles and politics of the country and are interesting to read.

african_success - South African writers

Antje Krog

Image courtesy of African Success

7. Achmat Dangor

Known for his books, “Kafka’s Curse” and “Bitter Fruit” Achmat was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His works are inspired by the social injustices in his country. His writing style is gripping and one wouldn’t fail to notice the way he depicts the problems facing the nation. He even goes as far as referring to the country as a ‘schizophrenic nation’. His poetry, novels and short stories are indeed unique works of literature.

8. Damon Galgut

Damon Galgut is one writer who has drawn inspiration from his difficult predicament. Having been diagnosed with cancer when he was aged six, he bases his literary works on this difficult period of his life. He is known for his book “The Good Doctor” which explores political tensions and other happenings in a hospital setting. Galgut’s writing style is truly unique because of his use of an unreliable narrator which actually makes an interesting read.

Damon_Galgut - South African writers

Damon Galgut (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

9. Lauren Beukes

Born and bred in South Africa, this great South African writer is known for her great works in her books, “zoo city” “The Shining girls” and other literary works. Her fiction is imaginative and very entertaining. She has won awards such as the Arthur C. Clarke award , M-Net literary award, World fantasy award and many more. She is indeed one gifted writer.

10. Breyten Breytenbach

Having been exiled to France because of a mixed race marriage, one can clearly see his understanding of apartheid thanks to his personal experience. His literary works depict the life of a white person in an apartheid South Africa. In his book, “The True Confessions Of An Albino Terrorist” he writes his works based on his seven years of incarceration after being charged with high treason. This writer effectively depicts in his works just how far apartheid would go.

Breyten_Breytenbach - South African writers

Image courtesy of KCRW

There are many more awe-inspiring South African writers, but the above ones really deserve to be on the top ten list.

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