There aren’t a lot of authors who I would write this kind of post for, but Bryce Courtenay is one of them. I remember when I picked up the first book I ever read by him, back in grade eight – Tandia – set in South Africa where he grew up. After that I went through a period of reading, where I read pretty much all of the books that he had released up until that point in time. One of the most poignant was April Fool’s Day – which was the story of his son, Damon who died from medically-acquired AIDS after suffering from Haemophilia his entire life. I remember having a box of tissues sitting next to me as I bawled my way through it.
Earlier this year, Bryce announced that his soon to be released book, Jack of Diamonds would be his last because he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The book was published 2 weeks ago (November 12, 2012). Today while I was checking my facebook, I saw that his publisher, Penguin Australia, had published the notice of his death. He was 79 years old.
While his books have never been widely known in the US, in fact, the only book, I can find of his with regularity is The Power of One. I can only hope that with the growing popularity of ebooks and audiobooks that many readers will experience his writing in the years to come. It is going to be weird, knowing that I won’t have that new yearly released by him to anticipate for Christmas (since my mom has been oh so awesome at giving me his books for gifts over the years. While i have yet to read all of his books, those that are left, as well as re-reads will give me something to look forward to in the future.
RIP Bryce. I look forward to reading Jack of Diamonds when my copy arrives and will remember all your books with fond memories :)