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John Miles

“Kroniek uit die doofpot is ’n meesleurende verhaal. Dis aangrypend, ontstellend en kan geen leser koud laat nie.” Joan Hambidge, Beeld (1991)

Johannes Daniel (John) Miles was born in Port Elizabeth on 1 August 1938 and matriculated at Erasmus High School in Bronkhorstspruit. He obtained an M.A. degree (Sociology) at the University of Pretoria, followed by an honours degree in Afrikaans. Miles became an Afrikaans Language lecturer at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg and, from 1967, was involved with the Department of Afrikaans and Nederlands at the University of the Witwatersrand for a lengthy period of time.

His first poems appeared in 1963, in Standpunte , and one in D.J. Opperman’s and Le Roux’s Stiebeuel 2 of 1965. He made his debut in 1970 with the collection of short stories, Liefs nie op straat nie was released and also awarded with the M-Net and CNA Prizes. The English translation, Deafening Silence, was reworked into a mini series shown on television, in 1997. Since his retirement in 1998 Miles has lived on the farm Katstaartlaagte near Nieuwoudtville, where he farms with rooibos tea, olive trees and buchu.

Miles is the co-founder of Taurus, the Afrikaans publishing house established in the 1970s with the objective of publishing books that the mainstream publishing houses were not willing to issue, due to the Publications Act. The other founding members were Ampie Coetzee and Ernst Lindenberg. André P. Brink’s Oomblik in die wind was one of the first books published by Taurus.

In 1978 his satiric novel Donderdag of Woensdag was banned by a committee of publications, but in 1983 the ban was lifted.

Taurus published Miles’ book Stanley Bekker en die boikotin 1980 and it became the first Afrikaans children’s book to be banned. The book, told from the perspec- tive of a coloured boy experiencing the discrimination of apartheid, was declared prohibited reading matter.

 

Publications - Prose

1970 Liefs nie op straat nie

1973 Okker bestel twee toebroodjies

1978 Donderdag of Woensdag

1983 Blaaskans – die bewegings van Flip Nel

2003 Die buiteveld

2009 Voetstoots

 

Children’s books

1980 Stanley Bekker en die boikot

 

Kroniek uit die doofpot is subtitled ‘n Polisieroman – A police novel – an “innocent” subtitle that creates the illusion that it is light reading. In contrast, the reader is confronted by a series of frightening and upsetting events, presented in an under-emphasised less is more way that creates even greater upset. (Commendatio 1992)

The novel dates back to the State of Emergency during the eighties. In his acceptance speech of 1992 Miles stated: “With this novel I deliberately wanted to reach as many readers as possible, also those readers who do not share my views. I wanted to do everything possible to convince my fellow-Afrikaner of the madness of intol- erance, inequity and, ultimately, the absolute folly in which the policy of ‘Totale Paraatheid’ [on red alert] landed us”.

“Kroniek uit die doofpot is ’n meesleurende verhaal. Dis aangrypend, ontstellend en kan geen leser koud laat nie.” Joan Hambidge, Beeld (1991)

“Die gespanne, gelade prosa maak Kroniek uit die doofpot Miles se allerbeste werk en een van die merkwaardigste en sterkste romans in die Afrikaanse prosa as sodanig.” JC Kannemeyer, Beeld (1991)

Miles het in 1992 ook die M-Net- en CNA-prys vir hierdie roman ontvang. 

In 1997 is Kroniek uit die doofpot in Engels as Deafening silence vertaal en dit is tot ’n minireeks verwerk wat op televisie uitgesaai is.