In the mid-1960s, drawn like other intellectual South Africans to Europe’s artistic “watering holes”, he set off for Paris and studied at the Sorbonne. With a fresh European perspective, his conviction that something was terribly wrong in his homeland was reinforced. He returned to South Africa and continued to write, using the written word as a weapon against Apartheid, just as Alexander Solzhenitsyn had done against the Communist dictatorship in Russia.
The first of his books to draw international attention was Looking on Darkness (1974); the original Afrikaans edition Kennis van die Aand was banned in South Africa, so Brink translated the novel himself into English.
Brink still lives in South Africa. Since 1991 he has been professor of English at the University of Cape Town.