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Deon Mayer

22nd March 2022

Deon Mayer is ‘Mr South African Crime’. He has written fourteen books that are firmly set in the country – the settings, the plots, and the characters could be from nowhere else… His most recent works feature detectives Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido –  a flawed but empathetic pair who epitomise the struggle against corruption that is so close to Deon’s heart. He says that South Africa is never as bad as you fear or as good as you hope, And, although the police are still not where we want them to be, the country is again full of hope following the departure of Jacob Zuma. He is an eternal optimist.

Meyer was born on 4 July 1958 in Paarl. He matriculated in 1976 at the Schoonspruit High School in Klerksdorp and then studied at Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education where he read for a BA with English and History as majors. He later obtained an honours degree at the University of the Free State. He was a long-time resident of historical coastal resort of Melkbosstrand where he wrote most of his novels. In the 1980s he worked as a journalist at Die Volksblad, at the public relations office of the University of the Free State, and began work as advertising copy writer at Sanlam. In 1991 he was appointed manager of Internal Communication and creative director of Sanlam’s Publicity department. After leaving Sanlam he started his own business specialising in the creation and management of virtual communities on the internet. He then worked as manager of special projects at BMW motorcycles. He currently writes full-time. His hobbies include touring Southern Africa on a motorcycle.

He currently lives in beautiful Stellenbosch in the Western Cape wine country. He describes it as a fascinating place to live through its university students giving life to the town and academia rubbing shoulders with the business world (the HQs of some of South Africa’s top companies are there). One neighbourhood has some of the most wealthy people in the country, in contrast to pockets of abject poverty in the adjacent township. There is, though, generally harmony. While deploring these disparities, Deon and his family often think of Stellenbosch as a microcosm of the country, which, with its people, in all its complexity, remains Deon’s core inspiration.

Deon, although fluent in English, prefers to write in his Afrikaans, his mother tongue. His books have been translated into twenty languages and he has a particularly close working relationship with his English translator, Laura Seegers.

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