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Author for all Ages

Marita van der Vyver was born in Cape Town and holds a masters degree in journalism from the University of Stellenbosch.  She published three novels for adolescents before her first adult novel, Griet skryf ‘n sprokie, became a best-seller, winning the M-Net, Eugène Marais and ATKV Prizes in 1992.  Since then she has been a full-time writer of fiction for readers of all ages, producing novels, a collection of humorous essays, a collection of short stories, picture books for young children and numerous stories included in anthologies.  She has won several awards as well as a bursary for international study from the SA Foundation for Creative Arts, and was invited to take part in the renowned writers’ programme of the University of Iowa in the USA.  Most of her adult novels are translated from the original Afrikaans into English, Dutch and German, while Griet skryf ‘n sprokie has been translated into a dozen languages including Chinese and Icelandic. She lives in a small village in the south of France with her French husband, Alain Claisse. They have 3 sons and a daughter.

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Marita van der Vyver is gebore in Kaapstad en het 'n meestersgraad in joernalistiek aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch. Tussen die ouderdom van 20 en 30 publiseer sy drie jeugromans  voordat haar eerste volwasse roman, Griet skryf 'n sprokie, in 1992 'n blitsverkoper en 'n literêre sensasie word. Die boek is bekroon met drie van die mees gesogte literêre pryse in Suid-Afrika: die M-Net, die ATKV en die Eugène Marais. Sedertdien het sy 'n heeltydse en veelsydige skrywer vir alle ouderdomme geword, met 'n tiental romans, 'n bundel kortverhale, twee versamelings van humoristiese essays, prenteboeke vir kleuters, talle kortverhale en essays in versamelbundels, en gereelde rubrieke in koerante en tydskrifte. Sy het reeds verskeie pryse vir haar skryfwerk gewen, asook 'n internasionale studiebeurs van die SA Stigting vir Skeppende Kunste, en in 1997 is sy genooi om deel te neem aan die bekende International Writers Program van die Universiteit van Iowa in die VSA. Haar volwasse romans word deurgaans in Engels, Hollands en Duits vertaal, terwyl Griet skryf 'n sprokie in sowat 'n dosyn tale gepubliseer is. Dit was die eerste Afrikaanse roman ooit wat in Chinees vertaal is, en het meer onlangs ook in Yslands verskyn. Marita woon op 'n klein dorpie in die suide van Frankryk saam met haar Franse man, Alain Claisse. Hulle het 3 seuns en 'n dogter.

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Marita van der Vyver was born in Cape Town, attended primary school in Bellville, and high school in Pretoria and Nelspruit. In 1975, in a national Afrikaans poetry competition for matric pupils, she won a study bursary for four years at the university of her choice.

She chose Stellenbosch, where she participated in D.J. Opperman's poetry workshops and was awarded a BA degree, majoring in Afrikaans and French, in 1978. The following year she acquired an honours degree (cum laude) in journalism, and in 1987, a masters degree in journalism, also at Stellenbosch.

In 1980 she spent a year travelling in Europe, working as an au pair in France and doing various menial jobs in London, such as waitressing in a Greek restaurant and pushing a tea-trolley in a big company. Back in South Africa she worked as reporter for Die Burger, copy writer for the book club Leserskring, and feature writer for the magazine Sarie. In 1987 she became a free-lance journalist/translator/proof-reader with the aim of finding more time to write fiction.

Her first youth novel, Van jou Jas (1982), won a beginners prize in a competition organized by Tafelberg Publishers. Her next two novels, Tien vir 'n vriend (1987) and Eenkantkind (1991), were both finalists for the Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature, and Eenkantkind won the ATKV Prize for Youth Literature.

In 1992, her first adult novel, Griet skryf 'n sprokie, was a literary sensation and a bestseller, winning the ATKV Prize, the Eugène Marais Prize of the Academy for Science and Arts, and the M-Net Prize. It has been translated into about a dozen languages, i.a. English (Entertaining Angels), Dutch, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. It was also the first Afrikaans book ever to be translated into Chinese. In 1997 the novel was adapted as a play by the Transvaal Performing Arts Council and ran successfully in Pretoria and at the Klein Karoo Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn.

Her next novel, Die dinge van 'n kind (1994), has been described as a pioneering work shifting borders between adult and youth fiction. It has been translated into English (Childish Things), German and Dutch, and also performed as a play at the Klein Karoo Arts Festival in 1998.

In 1997 her first book for young children, Olinosters op die dak (Rhinocephants on the Roof), illustrated by Piet Grobler,was awarded the Tienie Holloway Medal for outstanding children's literature by the Academy for Science and Arts. During this year she was also awarded an International Bursary by the Foundation for Creative Arts, enabling her to accept an invitation to participate in the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa in the USA.

Her novel Wegkomkans (1999) was largely written during a sabbatical year (1996/97) in the south of France. It has also been translated into English under the title Breathing Space. In 1999 she returned to France to marry Alain Claisse, and has since been living there with Alain; their daughter, Mia, born in 1999;  her son, Daniel, born in 1992; and Alain's two sons, Thomas and Hugo.

In 2001 she published Griet kom weer, which has been translated into English (Travelling Light), Dutch and German.  The following year her youth novel, Die ongelooflike avonture van Hanna Hoekom, won the Sanlam Prize for Youth Fiction. It was the only South African book on Exclusive Books' shortlist for the One Club Prize in 2003, and was chosen by IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) as Afrikaans Honour Book for 2004. The English translation, The Hidden Life of Hanna Why, was published by Tafelberg in 2007.

Her novel Vergenoeg was bought by Dutch and German publishers even before publication in 2003, and was published in English (There Is a Season) by Double Storey in 2007. In 2004 she published a collection of humorous essays on life in the French countryside, Die hart van ons huis which was subsequently also published by Double Storey in English (Where The Heart Is, 2006).In 2006 her first volume of short stories, Bestemmings, published together with its English translation, Short Circuits, won the M-Net Prize for Short Fiction In the same year she was also awarded the MER Prize for children's books, together with the illustrator Piet Grobler, for their picture book Mia se ma (Mia's Mom) which was subsequently translated into Swedish and Danish.

Stiltetyd and its English translation, Time Out, were also published in 2006 (Tafelberg), and won the ATKV Prize the following year. In 2008 she published another collection of mostly humorous essays, Franse briewe – Pos uit Provence. In 2010 she had a real bumper year, publishing 3 Afrikaans books and 2 English translations - a novel, Dis koue kos, skat (Just Dessert, Dear), that stayed among the top 3 fiction books in the SA bestseller lists for months; a beautiful food book together with her French husband, Alain Claisse, who happens to be a great cook, Somerkos in Provence (Summer Food in Provence); and a collection of her favourite fairytales from the Brothers Grimm, once again illustrated by Piet Grobler, Die mooiste sprokies van Grimm.

In the same year her youth novel, Die ongelooflike avonture van Hanna Hoekom, was turned into a film with the same title, charming audiences and drawing rave reviews, while another earlier novel, Vergenoeg, was adapted for the stage and successfully performed at all the major arts festivals. A year later Dis koue kos, skat was turned into a one-woman show with which well-known singer-actress Elzabé Zietsman toured the country, and the success of the food book led to quite an unexpected project: a TV cooking-and-travel series, MaritaKook, was filmed in the south of France with Marita as presenter and a different guest cook in each episode. But novels are still what Marita feels most passionate about, and in 2012 she published Die blou van onthou (Forget-Me-Not Blues), which won a Huisgenoot Tempo award as Afrikaans book of the year & was short-listed for the M-Net Awards.

From 2013 to 2015 she published two more non-fiction works about life in Provence - 'n Fontein voor ons deur/ A Fountain in France and Winterkos in Provence/ Winter Food in Provence - as well as an award-winning children's book (Die coolste ouma op aarde) and a YA novel (Swemlesse vir 'n meermin), which won the Scheepers Prize for Youth Literature. She also won a prize for a radio drama, Genade, and co-wrote the film script of her novel Dis koue kos, skat/ Just Dessert, Dear.

In 2016 she published another youth novel, Al wat ek weet , which won the kykNET-Rapport Book Prize in the Film Category and was shortlisted for SALA (South African Literary Awards). In 2017 her first adult novel in 5 years, Misverstand / You lost me is published simultaneously in Afrikaans and English by Penguin, immediately winning a trophy as the best-selling book in all genres at the Stellenbosch Woordfees. Her second radio drama, GENADE, is crowned as the best radio drama of the past 3 years and awarded a medal of honour by the SA Academy for Science and Arts. In 2018 she publishes a collection of essays, Retoer: Pretoria - Provence, while working on her next novel about the consequences of the South African 'Border War’ of the seventies, to be published in Afrikaans and English by Penguin in 2019. Recently she has also been offering creative writing courses on the Greek island of Lesbos, as well as guided tasting tours of Provence, Portugal, Morocco, Cuba and Vietnam.

In between full-time writing and family life, she tries to make time for some form of enjoyable exercise (preferably walking, cycling, dancing or yoga), as well as cooking with Alain, eating and drinking with friends, and travelling to unfamiliar places.  

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