Farewell to writer Wilbur Smith, the “master of adventure”

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He died suddenly, without giving any warning. Like one of those twists that have always characterized his books. Wilbur Smith, undisputed master of adventure fictiona, he went out a 88 years old in his residence in Cape Town, in South Africa: “He’s gone unexpectedly in the afternoon “, reads the note on its official website,” after a morning of reading and writing alongside his wife Niso ».

Yes, because the famous author – absolutely among the most prolific and popular in the world – he was still working at an excellent pace: a few days ago, in fact, his was released latest novel, The new Kingdom, written with the reporter Mark Chadbourn and set inAncient Egypt, while in ten days it will arrive on the shelves The Adventures of Jack Courtney – Lightning, the continuation of his first children’s book, Storm.

The original version of The fate of the lion.

With over 140 million copies sold all over the world (of which over a sixth in Italy where it is very popular), Smith has been defined by Times «a cult author, one of those points of reference that other writers continually come to compared“. To think that, under family pressure, he had graduated in commercial sciences and then began to be an accountant for thetax agency South African.

The passion for books, however, has accompanied him since he was a child: seen with skepticism by dad Herbert, worker of in a metallurgical industry that he became master of the factory where she worked, but powered by mother Elfreda, who passed works by Cecil Scott Forester, Rider Haggard and John Buchan to his son. So Wilbur he read in secret: indeed, reading soon became a kind of shelter from everyday life and injustices.

When start writing, before the age of thirty, focuses on what he knows best:Africa and its dynamics. He, born in the then Northern Rhodesia, the current Zambia, begins to tell the story of the forest, wild animals, the life of the indigenous people, the struggle against apartheid: in short, everything that he had lived firsthand. Yet, in the beginning, he receives about twenty waste from various publishing houses.

To trust him is there Heinemann, in 1964: the lucky debut The fate of the lion – which opens the cycle of Courtney – immediately launches it among the authors of best seller, other great successes will follow such as The burning beach, The river god e The seventh papyrus. In all, to date, they do 49 books. On the other hand, he had seen everything: the big game, the mines, the gold rush, the stories of whites and blacks.

His characters are – by his own admission – his alter egos and this creates a magical bond with the reader. Which is placed in the hands of a true adventurer, even in the sentimental field: four could, with the last one – the Tajik Mokhiniso Rakhimova, nearly forty years younger – has found true happiness. “You healed my heartIs the tender dedication on the opening pages of his latest book.

“Thanks for pushing me to become the best writer possible».

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