SJ Naudé grew up in South Africa, where he studied law. After practising law in New York and London for many years, he returned to South Africa for a master’s degree in creative writing. The Afrikaans edition of The Alphabet of Birds has won several prizes including the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize and a South African Literary Award. He was awarded the 2014 Jan Rabie & Marjorie Wallace Writing Scholarship, the largest award for creative writing in South Africa. Naudé currently lives in Cape Town.

More Info

  • Read more about The Alphabet of Birds in the book section.
  • SJ Naude was interviewed by Nancy Richards on the The Literary Show on Sundays on SAFM (South Africa) during which they discussed the And Other Stories edition of The Alphabet of Birds (in first 18 mins).
  • SJ Naudé writes for PEN Atlas here on the experience of translating yourself and in Asymptote Journal he reflects on the odd literary status of Afrikaans and talks about Afrikaans literature today – read it here.
  • S.J. Naudé reads from The Alphabet of Birds and discusses the Afrikaans language amongst young South Africans in the new South Africa in the excellent BBC Radio 4 series ‘Writing a New South Africa’ (at 18:38)


'Cool and intelligent, unsettling and deeply felt, Naudé’s voice is something new in South African writing.’

Neel Mukherjee

‘Here is the beginning of something extraordinary. Profound, complex, luminously written, and brilliantly orchestrated, SJ Naudé’s first collection establishes him indubitably as a writer who will reshape the contours of South African literature in years to come.’

Ivan Vladislavić

‘The connections between the pieces are resonant, and they gradually reveal themselves as a set of variations on themes, making for an unusually tight-knit and satisfying volume. Naudé’s debut was acclaimed in the Afrikaans literary world, marking the arrival of a questioning, cosmopolitan writer. This English translation will bring him the wider readership he deserves.’

André Brink

‘The astonishingly diverse stories in SJ Naudé’s remarkable collection The Alphabet of Birds count among the best in Afrikaans, built on recurring motifs and elements such as music; departure and travel; fairy tales and myths; illness, dissolution, dying and death; cities; a search for provenance and origins; forgetting and remembering; instinct and reason; that which is said or described versus that which remains unsaid or incapable of description forever; and the places and shapes of love in human relationships.’

Marlene van Niekerk

‘For the discerning reader the substantial stories in this collection provide a feast of rare originality and revelatory power. In exquisitely honed classical prose and with acute psychological insight Naudé shows how the social forces of our time bear upon the private lives of individuals. He is one of those rare South African writers who can subtly balance a relentless investigation of contemporary political conditions with an informed interest in the shape of mourning and desire in his characters.’

Patrick Flanery

‘Beautifully shaped and often heartbreaking stories . . . At once unsettling and deeply moving, this collection announces the arrival of a writer of great humanity and style.’

Extraordinary books straight to your door.

Print and ebook subcriptions available.
Spoil yourself or send them as a gift.

And Other Emails

Built by CHOPS.
New customer?

Register to purchase books, subscriptions or post comments on our reading groups.