THE FIFTH MRS BRINK
Karina Szczurek met André P Brink when she organised a conference on South African literature in her then home of Austria. The two fell in love and they ended up spending the last decade of Brink’s life together. This beautifully written memoir details the process of grief that the author went through after losing her husband.
The Fifth Mrs Brink is much more than an account of dealing with the death of a loved one, though – it is a moving love story and a fascinating account of the author’s nomadic childhood as her family fled from oppressive Poland. Szczurek attempted to make her home in the USA, Austria and Wales, before finally ending up in SA. She writes that she first fell in love with SA literature, then with the country itself, and finally, with the man who became her husband.
Memories of her childhood and descriptions of their time together are interspersed with diary entries (mostly from the year after Brink’s death); they lend the book a rare intimacy and intensity. The Fifth Mrs
Brink also serves as an ode to her friendships, many of them with other writers, as well as to the healing power of writing.
Szczurek is an extremely talented writer (her second novel is due to be published in 2018) and her use of language, particularly when writing about love, is simply beautiful. Not only is this novel an insight into the final years of one of our most acclaimed writers, it also provides a well-written guide through the process of grieving.