South African writer Achmat Dangor was born in 1948, as the Nationalist government — the architects of Apartheid — came to power. In 1973 he was banned for five years for his involvement in the radical black cultural group Black Thoughts, which he had helped to establish. Although forbidden to attend public gatherings and publish any of his writing during that time, Dangor wrote in secret and, in the 1980s, helped found the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW), a group of mainly black writers dedicated to the freedom struggle. From 1986 to 1991 he was executive director of the rural development agency Kagiso Trust, and in 1992 taught South African literature and creative writing at the City University of New York. He was subsequently appointed Director of the Independent Development Trust and, in 1999, was made Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Alongside his work in the development field he continued to write, and has published seven works of fiction and poetry to date. These include two collections of poetry, Bulldozer (1989) and Private Voices (1993), a short story collection (Waiting for Leila, 1982), a play (Majiet, 1986), and three novels, The Z Town Trilogy (1990), Kafka’s Curse (1997) and Bitter Fruit (2001). He has won many literary prizes, including the 1998 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for Kafka’s Curse, a novel which is in its second edition and has been translated into seven languages. In July 2001 he relocated to New York where he is currently working on his next novel. In March this year he returned to South Africa to participate in the Time of the Writer Festival in Durban.
Young, Elaine, Interview with Achmat Dangor, Kunapipi, 24(1), 2002.