Human & Rousseau

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Michiel Heyns

Biographical info

Michiel Heyns was born on 2 December 1943 in Stellenbosch. He went to school in Thaba Nchu, Kimberley and Grahamstown. He studied at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cambridge and was a professor in English at the University of Stellenbosch from 1987 until his early retirement in 2003.

Six novels have appeared since, of which The Children’s Day was translated into Afrikaans as Verkeerdespruit. He has also become renowned as a translator, and was awarded the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the Sol Plaatje Award for Translating for the translation of Marlene van Niekerk's Agaat.


English Academy’s Thomas Pringle Prize for reviewing (2006)
Sunday Times Fiction Award (2007) – With Marlene van Niekerk for his translation of Agaat
Sol Plaatje Award for translation (2008) – For his translation of Agaat
Herman Charles Bosman Fiction Prize for Bodies Politic (2008)
Herman Charles Bosman Fiction Prize for Lost Ground (2012)
Sunday Times Fiction Prize for  Lost Ground (2012)
Prix de l’Union Interalliée (Paris) for Le dactylographe de Mr James (2013)

List of titles

2002 The Children’s Day
2003 The Reluctant Passenger
2005 The Typewriter’s Tale
2006 Verkeerdespruit (translation of The Children’s Day)
2008 Bodies Politic
2011 Lost Ground
2012 Invisible Furies

Translations by Michiel Heyns
2006 Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk
2006 Memorandum: A Story with pictures by Marlene van Niekerk
2008 Equatoria by Tom Dreyer
2011 Bundu by Chris Barnard
2011 30 Nights in Amsterdam by Etienne van Heerden
2012 JM Coetzee: A Life in Writing by John Kannemeyer
2013 Wolf wolf by Eben Venter

Translations by others

The Reluctant Passenger, Jonathan Ball (2003)
- French (Le passager récalcitrant, 2007)

The Children’s Day
- Afrikaans (Verkeerdespruit, Human & Rousseau, 2006)
- French (Jours d’enfance, 2010)
- Dutch (Een jongensvriendschap, 2010)

The Typewriter’s Tale
- French (Le dactylographe de Mr James, 2012)

Lost Ground
-French (Un passé en noir et blanc, 2013)



Reviews – The Children’s Day:

“What sets it apart from the start is the quality of the writing: the humour, the wryness and Heyns’s skilful use of the power of understatement.” - David Medalie, The Sunday Independent

“It is beautifully and profoundly written. . . It is the best book I have read so far this year.” – Janet van Eeden-Harrison, The Natal Witness

“This is one of those novels that has an entirely original feel.” - Jane Rosenthal, Mail and Guardian

“You will not easily come across a local book that recreates history as palatably as The Children’s Day.” – Rachelle Greeff, The Cape Times

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