Meyer, Deon 1958-
MEYER, Deon 1958-
PERSONAL: Born 1958, in Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa; married; wife's name Anita; children: Lida, Liam, Johan, Konstanz. Education: Attended Potchefstroom University. Hobbies and other interests: Music, motorcycling, reading, cooking, rugby.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Isobel Dixon, Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, 122 Arlington Rd., 2nd Fl., London NW1 7HP, England.
CAREER: Crime writer, Internet consultant, and journalist. Volksblad, Bloemfontein, South Africa, reporter.
AWARDS, HONORS: Sunday Times shortlist citation, M-Net Book Prize shortlist citation, and ATKV Prose Prize, 2000, all for Dead at Daybreak; Grand Prix de Littérature Policire, 2003, for French translation of Dead before Dying; ATKV Prose Prize, 2003, for Heart of the Hunter; Prix Mystère de la Critique, 2004, for French translation of Heart of the Hunter.
Wie met vuur speel (novel), Tafelberg (Kaapstad, South Africa), 1994.
Feniks (novel), Queillerie (Kaapstad, South Africa), 1996, translation published as Dead before Dying, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1999.
Bottervisse in die jêm 13 kortverhale, Van der Walt (Pretoria, South Africa), 1997.
Orion (novel), Human & Rousseau (Kaapstad, South Africa), 2000, translation by Madeleine Van Biljon published as Dead at Daybreak, Coronet (London, England), 2000, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2005.
Proteus (novel), Human & Rousseau (Kaapstad, South Africa), 2002, translation by K. L. Seegers published as Heart of the Hunter, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
Infanta, Lapa Uitgewers (Pretoria, South Africa), 2004.
Author's work has been translated into French.
SIDELIGHTS: South African crime writer Deon Meyer has achieved an international reputation for his works, which use post-apartheid South Africa as their setting.
Although the books are written and originally published in Afrikaans, a language with a very small reading public outside Meyer's native country, translations of his works into English and French have earned the writer recognition, including the French Grand Prix de Littérature Policire and the Prix Mystère de la Critique. "It's difficult writing in Afrikaans," Meyer told an interviewer for Crime Time online. "It's so isolated and incestuous because it's an extremely small community anyway, but you have to get published in Afrikaans first." "The funny thing is, the major writers from South Africa, winning the prizes, have been around for a while, and there aren't so many new voices making themselves heard," the novelist concluded. "It's not as healthy as it should be, and the prizes sort of cover that up."
Meyer's first novel to be translated into English and released in the United States was the prize-winning Heart of the Hunter. The novel tells the story of Thobela Mpayipheli, a retired hitman who worked for the African National Congress (ANC) in the organization's struggle against apartheid. Thobela (also known as "Tiny," because he stands well over six feet tall) was trained by the former Soviet espionage organization, the KGB. The ANC had a close relationship with the KGB. Tiny now retired and working in a motorcycle shop in Cape Town. He has a stable relationship with Miriam Nzuluwazi and helps to prepare her young son for life as a farmer. But when Monica Kleintjes, the daughter of Tiny's former colleage Johnny Kleintjes, approaches him to deliver information to a terrorist group in order to save her father's life, Tiny is pulled back into the world of international intrigue and danger he hoped to put behind him. "This novel," stated Booklist contributor Frank Sennett, "examines the rippling horrors too often caused by so-called intelligence agents working for foreign masters in backwater nations."
Chased by representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency, al Quaeda, and the South African government, all of whom want the information he carries, Tiny is forced to steal a motorcycle and to head for the Zambian border. "Adrenalin long suppressed by his present pastoral life bursts into activity," wrote Judy Gigstad for BookReporter.com, "when he leads his pursuers across the South African veldt on a chase for survival. Meyer's description of the terrain makes his audience a part of the story, cheering for Tiny's success and the return to his new life."
"Praising the novel's wonderful setting," a Kirkus Reviews contributor also cited Meyer's "rich, colorful cast, headed by a valiant/vulnerable protagonist who makes empathy easy." "The freshness of the context and the emotional complexity of the hero's journey," declared a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, "are ample compensation for readers who want a more thought-provoking spy story." "Despite the complexity of its tightly-woven plot—skillfully revealed through newspaper articles and intelligence reports—Meyer's U.S. debut moves at a breathtaking pace," concluded Library Journal contributor Ronnie H. Terpening.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Frank Senmett, review of Heart of the Hunter, p. 1825.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2004, review of Heart of the Hunter, p. 553.
Library Journal, May 15, 2004, Ronnie H. Terpening, review of Heart of the Hunter, p. 115.
Publishers Weekly, July 19, 2004, review of Heart of the Hunter, p. 146.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (April 4, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Heart of the Hunter.
BookReporter.com, http://www/bookreporter.com/ (April 4, 2005), Judy Gigstad, review of Heart of the Hunter.
Crime Time Web site, http://www.crimetime.co.uk/ (April 4, 2005), interview with Meyer.
Deon Meyer Home Page, http://www.deonmeyer.com (April 4, 2005).