Sello Duiker, born in Soweto, South Africa, in 1974. B.A in Journalism from Rhodes University, Grahamstown. Author of two novels and an Anthology of Short Stories. Winner of a number of literary awards, amongst which the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Novel (2001). († 2005)
Writer-in-Residence (1 September 2003 – 31 January 2004)
RECONCILIATION IN THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA
I would first like to formally thank NIAS for the invaluable opportunity it afforded me in coming here. I have had a fruitful stay. During my stay at NIAS I decided I would try and finish the manuscript already started in South Africa. It is a story about post apartheid South Africa where two men come face to face with their past. Needless to say, I was most nervous about whether I would be able to write my novel away from home. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was possible. I attribute this especially to the fact that NIAS manages to create an atmosphere that is conducive to work. The excellent staff members made my stay here most agreeable. But as I had enough time to work on the novel I then became curious about how I might maximise my stay here. I have always wanted to write a children’s novel. It is something that has been at the back of my mind for a while. So I divided my days into two. In the morning I would work on my adult novel and in the afternoon I would work on the children’s novel. I am very pleased with how effective this strategy turned out to be as it allowed me to use my time wisely. I am glad to report that two weeks before the end of my stay here at NIAS I was able to finish the manuscript for the children’s novel and even to send it to my South African editor. My South African publisher also had a look at it and gave me a very favourable report saying that she would like to publish the novel this year. I have a deadline for the end of May in which to carry out the final touches. For this I am very grateful to NIAS. I was also able to submit a short story which is to be published in a Dutch anthology sometime in the near future although I have no clear idea when. This was organised through Fonds van de Letteren. Sylvia Dornseiffer made this possible.
NIAS has also proved to be a place where I have been able to reflect on myself and my life. I have been able to make a few lifestyle changes like giving up smoking and making exercise part of my routine. I have also had the opportunity to take horse riding lessons. All in all I feel as though my stay at NIAS has been most stimulating. Initially I thought the remoteness of Wassenaar would be difficult to get accustomed to but, in fact, it turned out to be an ideal place for study and contemplation, a sanctuary for serious work. I thank the administrators and everyone who has made it possible for me to come here.