I have written and published books in two languages and various genres. And I have been lucky enough to be nominated for the odd award, winning on occasion.
My debut was a volume of literary short stories in Afrikaans – Ekstra Dun vir Meer Gevoel (=Extra Thin for more Feeling). The stories have been widely anthologised. I then wrote the short historical novel Wydsbeen (=Spread-legged), which was shortlisted for the Rapport Prize and CNA Debut Prize. I moved from South Africa to New Zealand in 1998 and switched to writing in English.
This was the second time I’ve moved countries – I was born in Walvis Bay, Namibia, and moved from there to Bellville, South Africa, just before starting school. I studied at the University of Cape Town, and later lived in Mowbray, not far from the university. I now live in Auckland, New Zealand.
Random House NZ published by crime story Nobody Dies in 2004. The NZ Herald rated it one of the five best thrillers of the year – the only local book on the list. The NZ Listener magazine headed their review quite flatteringly with the question “Is Zirk van den Berg the best thriller writer in NZ?” My Afrikaans translation of this book, ‘n Ander Mens, won the KykNet/Rapport Award for best filmable book in South Africa in 2014. The movie inspired by the book was released in 2019, together with a re-release of the book.
In 2014, Penguin South Africa published my novel about a Kiwi soldier in the Boer War, Half of One Thing.
My historical novel Parts Unknown is was published in October 2018, and the Afrikaans novella Ek Wens, Ek Wens in February 2019. This book won the 2020 W.A. Hofmeyr Prize for literature, as well as two awards at the 2020 kykNET-Rapport Book Awards – for fiction as well as for best filmable book.
The English version of this book, I Wish, I Wish, was released in New Zealand in October 2020 and was a finalist for the 2021 NZ Booklovers Award for Fiction.
A short novel, Die onsigbare pou, about a fictional 1980s Afrikaans rock star, appeared in 2022.
I also do translations from English into Afrikaans. Apart from translating my own work, I have translated three of Wilbur Smith’s novels into Afrikaans in recent years, two by Philip Kerr, as well as cricketer AB de Villiers’ autobiography. In 2016, I was one of the three finalists for the translation prize at the South African Literary Awards (SALA).