Yvette Christiansë biography

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Yvette Christiansë

Yvette Christiansë

How to pronounce Yvette Christiansë: EE-vet cris-tee-AHN-zuh

Yvette Christiansë Biography

Yvette Christiansë was born in South Africa under apartheid and emigrated with her family via Swaziland to Australia at the age of eighteen. She is the author of the poetry collections Castaway (1999) and Imprendehora (2009), as well as a novel Unconfessed (2007).

Imprendehora was a finalist for the Via Afrika Herman Charles Bosman Prize in 2010 and Castaway was a finalist in the 2001 PEN International Poetry Prize. Her novel Unconfessed was a finalist for the Hemingway/PEN Prize for first fiction and received a 2007 ForeWord Magazine BEA Award. It was also shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2008, and nominated for the Ama Ata Aidoo Prize 2010. Her poetry has been published in the U.S., South Africa, Australia, Canada, France and Italy. She is also the recipient of The Harri Jones Memorial Prize for poetry (Australia).

She teaches at Bernard University and lives in New York City.



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Interview

Yvette Christiansë talks about the background to her novel, Unconfessed, a fiercely poetic literary debut re-creating the life of an 19th-century slave woman in South Africa.

In 1825, the newly appointed Superintendent of Police for the Cape Colony discovered a slave woman languishing in the Cape Town goal. Sentenced to death on April 30 1823, Sila van den Kaap had not only survived, but also bore two children while in prison. What had she done to deserve death? And what moved the Superintendent to petition George IV for a full pardon on her behalf? Inspired by actual nineteenth century court records, Unconfessed moves from the Cape Town goal to Robben Island where Sila serves a commuted sentence of hard labor. On this low, wind-harried stretch of land, on which Nelson Mandela would later spend more than two decades, Sila breaks stones in the prison quarry, cleans the warden's home, survives in the company of the few other women prisoners, especially Lys, and sings a fierce, sometimes maniacal, sometimes wickedly humorous love song to her dead son. He alone shares with her the deep privacy of what happened that Christmas Eve, and why for, in public, when asked to explain her act, Sila uttered nothing but one word: heertseer, or "heart sore."

While court and other records give the "who" and "when" of Sila's action, she herself remains locked in the ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Yvette Christiansë at BookBrowse
Unconfessed jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Yvette Christiansë but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • André Brink

    André Brink

    André Brink was born in 1935 in South Africa. His diverse literary production encompasses novels, essays on literature and politics, literary anthologies, plays, children's books, translations and a book of memoirs.

    ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Unconfessed

    Try:
    Philida
    by André Brink

  • Author Image Not Available

    Hannah Crafts

    Hannah Crafts lived in the mid 1850s and is believed to be a runaway slave from N. Carolina. This recently discovered manuscript, "The Bondwoman's Narrative," is believed to be the first novel written by a female ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Unconfessed

    Try:
    The Bondwoman's Narrative
    by Hannah Crafts

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