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Author Profile: Michiel Heyns


Michiel Heyns, Image Courtesy of Jonathan Ball PublishersMichiel Heyns grew up all over South Africa – Thaba Nchu, Kimberley, Grahamstown, Cape Town – and was educated at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cambridge. For much of his adult life he was an academic, lecturing in English at the University of Stellenbosch, but after publication of his first novel, The Children’s Day, he took to writing full-time, publishing The Reluctant Passenger in 2003, The Typewriter’s Tale in 2005, and Bodies Politic in 2009. For the last of these he was awarded the 2009 Herman Charles Bosman Award for English Fiction. His fifth novel, Lost Ground, was published in April 2011, and was awarded both the Herman Charles Bosman Award for English Fiction and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for 2012.

In 2006 he translated two works by Marlene van Niekerk, Agaat and Memorandum. Agaat was awarded the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for 2006; published as The Way of the Women in the UK in November 2007, it was short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award in the US. Heyns won the English Academy’s Sol Plaatje Award for Translating (2008) as well as the South African Translators’ Institute Award for a Literary Translation for his translation of Agaat.

He has also translated Equatoria by Tom Dreyer, published by Aflame Books . His translation of Etienne van Heerden’s 30 Nights in Amsterdam was published early in 2011, and his translation of Chris Barnard’s Bundu was published later that same year. He reviewed regularly for the Sunday Independent, for which he was awarded the English Academy’s Pringle Prize for Reviewing for 2006 and again for 2010.[1]




Critical Studies

  • Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century Novel (1994)

Chapters in Books

  • ‘”Like people in a Book”: Imaginative Appropriation in Lord Jim’ in Under Postcolonial Eyes: Joseph Conrad After Empire, ed. Gail Fincham and Myrtle Hooper, Cape Town: UCT Press, 1996.


  • ‘On Graciousness and Convenience: Cape Cottaging 1960-c.1980’ in A City Imagined, edited by Stephen Watson, Penguin 2005.

Short Stories

  • Long Perspectives, in Touch, edited by Karina Magdalena Szczurek




1., Retrieved 9 October 2012

Image Courtesy of Jonathan Ball Publishers

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