Chris van Wyk - Irascible Genius by Kevin van Wyk

If storytelling runs in the genes, Kevin may just be proof that his father’s spirit lives on.

"This is a memoir, but also a book about writing and a love affair with words.” – Kevin van Wyk



Chris van Wyk – Irascible Genius

by Kevin van Wyk

Book cover for Chris van Wyk – Irascible Genius

When he died in 2014, author Chris van Wyk left behind an impressive literary legacy. The scope of his work was broad – poetry, children’s books, short stories and biographies. But perhaps he is best remembered for his memoir Shirley, Goodness & Mercy, which chronicles his growing up in Riverlea and introduces us to the colourful characters who helped to shape his life and inform the stories he wrote.

The public persona of this witty and wise raconteur was well known, but behind it was a family man, who liked nothing better than to spend time with his two sons Kevin and Karl, his wife and childhood sweetheart Kathy, and the friends and family who were his primary sources of inspiration.

Using the unique vantage point of oldest son, Kevin van Wyk’s astute observations of his father and the strong bond they enjoyed throughout Chris’s life have resulted in a memoir that is as affectionate as it is entertaining. In taking us behind the scenes into the Van Wyk household, we witness the inner workings of the mind of a storyteller, from the flowering of his father’s activism, wit and wisdom to the sources of his occasional quirky outbursts. If storytelling runs in the genes, Kevin may just be proof that his father’s spirit lives on.



The remarkable story of a man who was a national treasure; it brings us nearer to an understanding of what shaped Chris, his love for family and his storytelling genius.’

– MANDLA LANGA


‘A delightful memoir brimming with life and laughter. It offers an extraordinary behind-the-scenes view of a well-loved writer and casts a fascinating light on his work.'

– IVAN VLADISLAVIĆ


‘Irascible Genius is poignant, yet also joyful. The son of the man who came to be known as South Africa’s ambassador for reading has given us a very good read.’

– DAVID MEDALIE