The books of Bryce Courtenay
Posted November 23, 2012 11:35:13
Bryce Courtenay came late to the world of writing books, releasing his debut novel the Power of One in 1989 at the age of 55. Courtenay went on to write 21 books. Here is a bibliography of his published works:
- The Power of One (1989)
- Tandia (1992)
- April Fool's Day (1993) (non-fiction)
- A Recipe for Dreaming (1994)
- The Potato Factory (1995)
- Tommo & Hawk (1997)
- The Family Frying Pan (1997)
- The Night Country (1998)
- Jessica (1998)
- Solomon's Song (1999)
- Smoky Joe's Cafe (2001)
- Four Fires (2001)
- Matthew Flinders' Cat (2002)
- Brother Fish (2004)
- Whitethorn (2005)
- Sylvia (2006)
- The Persimmon Tree (2007)
- Fishing for Stars (2008)
- The Story of Danny Dunn (2009)
- Fortune Cookie (2010)
- Jack of Diamonds (2012)
Topics:arts-and-entertainment, books-literature, australia, south-africa
Bryce Courtenay: fact or fiction?
By Karina Carvalho
Updated May 16, 2012 07:07:45
Australia's best-selling author Bryce Courtenay has spoken for the first time about claims he lied about his childhood in South Africa.
Courtenay, 78, was reluctant to discuss the revelations made by his sister, Rosemary, who raised doubts about the time he spent in an orphanage and who funded his schooling in South Africa.
He brushed off questions about their relationship when I interviewed him at his home in Canberra, saying he barely knows her.
"She's a deeply religious person of a charismatic faith and we don't have a great deal in common," he said.
"In fact, we never have had a great deal in common.
"We didn't spend a lot of our childhood together, some but not a lot, so I've been careful to have her benefit from my success."
His sister had cancer and he says he spent a great deal of money to help save her.
What does the term real mean? The only thing that's authentic about what a writer writes is his work.
Courtenay has had his own illness to contend with, after being convinced the stomach cancer he had been diagnosed with a year ago had spread.
His doctor has given him the all-clear - for now at least.
When pushed on why he will not refute outright claims that he has exaggerated some aspects of his childhood, Courtenay was less forthcoming.
"One of the joys of having left a country where things were not always right for me and having come to a country where I've been able to give my utmost is, I want to be known for the 57 years I've been in Australia, not for the 17 years I spent in Africa," he said.
"Judge me on what I have done here and what I have said here and what I have been here and what contribution, if any, I've made whilst I've been here.
"And that's what concerns me, not my childhood."
'I have always tried to be honest'
Courtenay has mastered a style of popular fiction that has resulted in more than 20 million book sales, during a writing career that only began 21 years ago with The Power of One.
His debut novel has gone on to sell 9 million copies worldwide.
I put to him a line from his second book, April Fool's Day, which he wrote to dispel the myths about HIV/Aids after his son Damon, a haemophiliac, died at the age of 24 after being infected by a blood transfusion.
Courtenay wrote "I tell myself lies and soon I believe them".
His response is short: "Name me a fiction writer who doesn't. I have always tried to be honest."
I ask if he has blurred the lines between fact and fiction.
"My job, and that's my job, is to dress the naked truth," he said.
"To make it interesting, to make it viable, to make it seem like something you understand and feel and love."
I press him: "So have you done that with your own life as opposed to just with your writing?"
Courtenay said he could not answer that and I asked him why not.
"Because to me it seems an absurdity, I'm a writer, there are two personas going here," he said.
I question which one is real.
"Oh, come on, what does the term real mean?" he asks.
"The only thing that's authentic about what a writer writes is his work."
I ask if he can separate the two, his writing persona and real life.
"But, of course, [Charles] Dickens was accused of exactly what you are doing, exactly what you are doing to me now," he said.
"Does it make him any less real? He was one of the great writers in the world.
"I would never ever presume to be anywhere in that class, but nevertheless we have the same affectations and so does just about every writer."
As we finish our conversation, he is adamant Australia is still the lucky country.
It is racist, he says, but less so than when he first arrived in 1955 and he is very excited for the next generation of writers.
"I guess my use-by date is just about up but if I could come back as a storyteller now, I would be jumping over the moon because wow, just think what's available."
Courtenay's health problems prevented him from releasing a book last Christmas, which was difficult for someone who has written 20 books in 21 years.
But he says his readers can expect a new title later this year.
Topics:author, books-literature, arts-and-entertainment, australia
First posted May 15, 2012 07:00:10
Who is Bryce Courtenay?
- Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1933. Moved to Australia in 1958.
- Studied journalism in London and worked in advertising before becoming a writer at the age of 55.
- His first book, The Power of One, was published in 1989.
- It has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.
- His second book, April Fool's Day, is a tribute to his son who died at the age of 24 after contracting HIV/AIDS from a blood transfusion.
- He has written 20 books in 21 years, which have sold more than 20 million copies.
- He was awarded the Order of Australia in 1995.