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Michiel Heyns

Michiel Heyns grew up all over South Africa – Thaba Nchu, Kimberley, Grahamstown, Cape Town - and was educated at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cambridge. For much of his adult life he was an academic, lecturing in English at the University of Stellenbosch, but after publication of his first novel, The Children’s Day, he took to writing full-time, publishing The Reluctant Passenger in 2003 and The Typewriter’s Tale in 2005 (published in the UK by Freigh Books in 2016, and in the US by St Martin's Press in 2017). In 2009 he published Bodies Politic, which was short-listed for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, and won the 2009 Herman Charles Bosman Award for English Fiction. His fifth novel, Lost Ground, was published in April 2011, and was awarded both the Herman Charles Bosman Award for English Fiction and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for 2012. Invisible Furies was published in May 2012, and A Sportful Malice in 2014. The latter novel won the Herman Charles Bosman Award for English Fiction. His eighth novel, I am Pandarus, was published by Jonathan Ball in 2017, and his latest novel, A Poor Season for Whales, appeared in March 2020.

In 2006 Michiel translated two works by Marlene van Niekerk, Agaat and Memorandum. Agaat was awarded the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for 2006;  published as The Way of the Women in the UK in November 2007, it was short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award in the US. This translation won the English Academy's Sol Plaatje Award for Translating (2008) as well as the South African Translators' Institute Award for a Literary Translation.Heyns has also translated Equatoria by Tom Dreyer, published by Aflame Books (UK, 2008). His translation of Etienne van Heerden's 30 Nights in Amsterdam was published early in 2011, and of Chris Barnard's Bundu later that year. This novel, in its translated form, was short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013. He translated Eben Venter's novel, Wolf, Wolf (published 2013, shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize), and Ingrid Winterbach's It Might Get Loud (2015) and The Shallows (2017). His translation of her latest novel, The Troubled Times of Magrieta Prinsloo, was published in 2019, as was his translation of Elsa Joubert’s Cul de Sac.  His translation of Willem Anker’s Red Dog was published in South Africa in 2018, and won the SALA Prize for Literary Translation. In the UK it was published by Pushkin Press in 2019, and was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.

Michiel reviewed regularly for the Sunday Independent, for which he was awarded the English Academy's Pringle Prize for Reviewing for 2006 and again for 2010. He also reviewed for Noseweek for a while.