As I lay in my bed early on Saturday morning and read the news on my phone, I shrieked with dismay as I discovered Bryce Courtenay had died the day before.
One of the most beloved storytellers of our era; an international treasure, a humble, former Ad man who made Australia his home, is gone.
His novels The Power of One, Tandia, The Potato Factory & Jessica, to name a few, are beautifully written stories of the human spirit, adversity, bonds between us and relationships that are intensely soul stirring and heartbreakingly beautiful; part prose, poetry and always with a gut wrenching honesty that has endeared his writing to his readers.
I remember fondly my year 8 school summer holidays when I first read The Power of One; my friend Janine and I spent a few weeks staying in her parents caravan on the beach in Diamond Head where we lay out sunbathing and taking turns to read aloud to each other. We would cry at the heartbreaking parts and cheer with Peekay’s success. We bought the VHS movie and the soundtrack and watched Bryce’s words come to life as we listened to the uplifting and often haunting voices of the African choirs that filled the soundtrack.
Bryce discovered he had terminal gastric cancer and instead of fighting it with surgeries, chemo and experimental surgeries, he accepted it with peace and dignity and chose to spend his last months at home with his wife.
He released this YouTube clip as a farewell to his readers everywhere. It’s simply beautiful and honest and humble, just like the man we’ll all miss.