Breyten Breytenbach (born September 16, 1939) is a South African writer and artist (painter).

Breyten Breytenbach was born in Bonnievale, one of the most beautifully situated towns in the Western Cape, approximately 180km from Cape Town and 100km from the southernmost tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas. He studied fine arts at the University of Cape Town and became a committed opponent against the long held policy of apartheid. He left South Africa for Paris in the early 1960s. When he married a Vietnamese he was not allowed to return. The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949) and The Immorality Act (1950) made it a criminal offence for a white person to have any sexual relations with a person of a different race.

In France he was a founder member of Okhela, a resistance group fighting apartheid in exile. On an illegal trip to South Africa in 1975 he was betrayed, arrested and sentenced to nine years of imprisonment for high treason. Released in 1982 as a result of massive international intervention he returned to Paris and obtained French citizenship.

He currently divides his time between Europe, Africa and USA. He joined the University of Cape Town as a visiting professor in the Graduate School of Humanities (from January 2000) and is also involved with the Gorée Institute in Dakar (Senegal) and with the University of New York.

The work of Breytenbach includes numerous volumes of poetry, novels, and essays, many of which are in Afrikaans, many translated from Afrikaans to English, and many published originally in English. He is also known for his works of pictorial arts. Exhibitions of his paintings and prints were shown in numerous cities around the world including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Paris, Brussels, Edinburgh and New York.


  • Die ysterkoei moet sweet
  • Katastrofes
  • Die huis van die dowe
  • Kouevuur
  • Lotus
  • Skryt
  • Voetskrif
  • A Season in Paradise
  • Blomskryf - anthology
  • Vingermaan - anthology
  • In Africa even the flies are happy (selected poems)
  • Mouroir: Mirror Notes of a Novel
  • The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist
  • Return to Paradise
  • Papierblom
  • Memory of Birds in Times of Revolution (essays)
  • Dog Heart
  • Lady One: Of Love and other Poems

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