Marlene Van Niekerk: Biography

Marlene Van Niekerk

10 nov 1954

Marlene Van Niekerk is a South-African novelist, an award winning poet, a scholar and a critic who is well-known for her debut novel ‘Triomf’. Marlene was born on Nov 10, 1954 in Tygerhoek farm situated in Western Cape, South Africa. She was interested in Philosophy and went on to receive a master degree and a doctorate in the same field.

Mastering in philosophy got Marlene a lecturer job. She served as a professor at the University of Zululand, Unisa and at the University of Witwatersrand. Currently she works as a professor at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, Stellenbosch University.

During her college days Marlene used to write plays for the lay theatre. Her deep interest in directing made her move to Germany in 1979 and join as apprentice for directing in theatres.

It was Marlene’s first novel, ‘Triomf’ that brought her huge fame and recognition. Not only the novel but the film adaption of the same won the Best South African Film Award at the Durban International Film festival. One of her another work, ‘Agaat’ was translated by Michiel Heyns as ‘The Way of the Women’ and was published in UK.

‘Agaat’ topped the Swedish best-seller list for five weeks during 2012. The novel also received various honours such as the South African Sunday Times Literature Prize, the Hertzog Prize and was also shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Michiel Heyns received the Sol Plaatje Award for its translation.

Apart from all these recognitions, the South-African government honoured Marlene Van Niekerk with their highest award, the order of Ikhamanga for her extra-ordinary contribution to arts and culture.