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James Whyle

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

About James Whyle

James Whyle grew up in the Amatole Mountains of the Eastern Cape. After being conscripted into the apartheid army, he was discharged on the grounds of insanity. He did everything in his power to assist the authorities in arriving at this diagnosis. His play about the experience, National Madness, has been called “a simple, subtle and frequently satirical portrait of the condition of militarism”. It was performed at the Market and Baxter theatres and published in Market Plays.

Whyle has since published poetry, short stories and journalism. His radio dramas, commissioned by the BBC, include A Man Called Rejoice which was published as Rejoice Burning in the UK in New South African Plays. His screenplay for the film Otelo Burning has been nominated for achievement in screenplay by the Africa Movie Academy Awards. His story, “The Story”, was chosen by JM Coetzee as winner of the 2011 Pen/Studzinski competition.

James Whyle’s first full-length novel, The Book of War, was published to critical acclaim by Jacana in 2012. It was shortlisted for the preeminent South African literary award, the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for 2012, and won the 2013 M-Net Debut Award. Rian Malan called the book “a very good book, possibly great” and according to William Kentridge it is a “rare feast”.


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