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Chris van Wyk
Literary Translators Award
 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 autobiographical novel, “Shirley Goodness and Mercy” which is about different anecdotes from his childhood, was published by Picador Africa.

Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch is Chris van Wyk’s second childhood memoir about growing up in Riverlea and his colourful interactions with the men and women who lived the African proverb that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.

In 2008, Van Wyk was honoured with the Literary Translator’s Award by the South African Literary Awards