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Bryce Courtenay Bryce Courtenay i(A35074 works by) (birth name: Arthur Bryce Courtenay)
Born: Established: 14 Aug 1933 Johannesburg,
South Africa,
Southern Africa, Africa,
; Died: Ceased: 22 Nov 2012 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 1958
Heritage: South African
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Bryce Courtenay was born in South Africa. He was educated at private schools and the London School of Journalism. Courtenay moved to Australia in 1958 and worked in advertising for the next thirty-five years. In 1991 he published his first novel, The Power of One, which quickly became a best-seller and was later produced as a film. Courtenay's novels are very popular and have been translated into several languages. His later works continued his exploration of South African issues and also included a historical trilogy set in Tasmania and an autobiographical account of his son's death from AIDS.

Courtenay was a vocal and active supporter of literacy programs, often denigrating 'literary' writers, critics and academics for producing and promoting works that turn young readers away from books. Several prominent critics consistently wrote bad reviews of Courtenay's works which led to heated exchanges in print and in public. Nevertheless, Courtenay's novels remain bestsellers.

In January 2012, Courtenay was named the Australian Capital Territory's Australia Day ambassador and in September 2012, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra.

Most Referenced Works


  • Some workshops for young writers, hosted by Courtenay, have also been recorded and published.
  • Interview with Caroline Jones (tape held NSL)
  • Voted number 6 in the Booktopia Top 50 Favourite Australian Authors for 2018

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Jack of Diamonds Melbourne : Viking , 2012 Z1812762 2012 single work novel

'Born and raised in a poor, working-class family in Toronto, Jack Spayd is the son of an unhappy marriage. But when he is given a harmonica as a young boy, he discovers a talent for music that will change his life forever. After being taken under the wing of "Miss Frostbite", the owner of a local jazz club, Jack becomes a gifted musician, playing piano and harmonica.

'After the death of his mother, he travels to Las Vegas and finds work in the clubs there, but is increasingly drawn to gambling. He earns a reputation as a good player, which brings him to the attention of the mafia. Jack wants to join the professional circuit, and to do that he needs serious money behind him. It's this need that sees him travel to the Belgian Congo, where he's heard it's possible to earn big money working in the most dangerous parts of the local copper mines.

'He gradually falls in love with Africa - and then with a beautiful Ethiopian woman. They move to London, where they bring up a daughter who becomes a supermodel. In a dramatic twist, the story returns to Africa - and to a fortune in diamonds.

'Jack of Diamonds is the story of a young, talented man, fighting to achieve his ambitions, and having to use his considerable talents to find his way in a perilous world.' (From the Angus and Robertson Bookstore website.)

2013 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian General Fiction Book of the Year
y separately published work icon Whitethorn Camberwell : Viking , 2005 Z1224158 2005 single work novel historical fiction
2007 longlisted International Awards International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
y separately published work icon Smoky Joe's Cafe Ringwood : Penguin , 2001 Z668036 2001 single work novel

'A Vietnam vet returns to an Australia that regards him as a mercenary guilty of war crimes.

'Thommo begins to develop all kinds of physical and mental problems, and thinks it must only be him until he finds that he is not alone. Ten mates, all who remain of his platoon, are affected in the same way.

'Now Thommo and his mates are eleven angry men out for revenge. They rope in an ex-Viet Cong with 'special skills' and his own secret agenda. They're the 'Dirty Dozen', just like the movie. Only it's real life, and they're so screwed up they couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

'That is, until a woman of character steps in. Wendy's infant daughter is dying and needs a transplant. She sets out to mould this bunch of ex-jungle fighters into a unit that will fight for justice, by fair means or foul.

'Hell hath no fury …' (Publication summary)

2001 winner Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Booktopia People's Choice Award
Last amended 1 Feb 2018 12:06:36
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