The antithesis of John Updike, a major writer who opted for minor themes, André Brink is a minor writer who has opted for major ones. This judgement in no way detracts from the merit of a substantial and rewarding body of work. But it does make one wonder, perhaps ungenerously, whether he would have been fêted all over the world if he had not throughout his adult life so courageously and eloquently crusaded against the evils of apartheid in his native South Africa.
Those who have never before opened one of Brink’s books and wish to find him at his considerable best should at once read the first sixty pages of this autobiography. In some of his novels Brink has already evoked a childhood world of small Afrikaner communities ‘strung like