The Extraordinary Life and Times of Chris Barnard

Here is a link to an interview with the author. Click here.

Also wikiwand has a list of his books etc. Click here.

Written by ChatGTP and Wanda Hartzenberg

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Chris Barnard

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Chris Barnard: Accolades and Scandals


In the annals of South African literature, one name that shines brilliantly is that of Chris Barnard. A prolific author, Barnard left an indelible mark on the literary world with his exceptional storytelling and thought-provoking narratives. However, like many great personalities, his life was not without its share of accolades and scandals. In this blog post, we delve into the remarkable life and times of Chris Barnard, exploring both his literary triumphs and the controversies that followed him.


1. **Prolific Writer:** Chris Barnard was a literary prodigy from the start. Born in 1939 in the small town of Kuils River, South Africa, he showed an early aptitude for writing. His debut novel, “Die Stiltetyd” (The Silence), published in 1964, garnered critical acclaim and set the stage for his prolific career.

2. **Award-Winning Novelist:** Throughout his career, Barnard received numerous awards for his literary contributions. His novel “Mahala” won the Hertzog Prize, one of South Africa’s most prestigious literary awards, in 1977. This achievement solidified his status as a leading figure in South African literature.

3. **International Recognition:** Barnard’s works transcended national boundaries and were translated into multiple languages, gaining recognition on the global stage. His novel “Duiwel-in-die-bos” (Devil in the Forest) was especially well-received, earning him an international following.

4. **Exploring Social Issues:** Barnard’s writing was not limited to literary excellence; he used his talent to explore critical social issues. His novel “Bessie Head: A Biographical Sketch” delved into the life of the acclaimed South African writer Bessie Head, shedding light on the challenges faced by African writers during apartheid.

5. **Legacy in Academia:** Beyond his literary works, Barnard made significant contributions to academia. He served as a professor at the University of Cape Town, where he inspired and mentored future generations of writers and scholars.


1. **Controversial Themes:** Barnard’s willingness to tackle contentious issues in his writing often put him at odds with conservative elements in South African society. His novels, which delved into topics such as race, sexuality, and politics, frequently sparked controversy and censorship.

2. **Allegations of Plagiarism:** In 1992, Barnard faced allegations of plagiarism when it was discovered that parts of his novel “Moerland” (Motherland) bore similarities to the work of another author, AndrĂ© P. Brink. This scandal tarnished his reputation temporarily but was largely overshadowed by his previous literary successes.

3. **Personal Struggles:** Barnard’s personal life was marked by struggles with alcoholism and failed marriages. These challenges sometimes spilled into the public eye, creating a sense of scandal around his personal affairs.

4. **Political Tensions:** As a writer living through the tumultuous years of apartheid in South Africa, Barnard’s views on politics were often scrutinized. While he was not a staunch activist, his writing was seen as a reflection of the changing political landscape, which garnered both support and criticism.


Chris Barnard’s life and times were a rollercoaster of accolades and scandals. His literary brilliance, international recognition, and contributions to South African literature remain undeniable. However, his willingness to challenge societal norms and engage with controversial themes occasionally led to controversy. Despite the scandals that marked his career, Chris Barnard’s legacy as a prolific writer and thought-provoking author endures, reminding us that great literary figures are often as complex as the worlds they create in their works.