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RIP Luke Stubbs

Luke Stubbs

BOOK SA has received the news that Luke Stubbs has passed away, in Cape Town, about an hour ago. He died of cancer. It was considered by someone who was at his bedside regularly in the past few weeks to have been a mercy, as his suffering was very great towards the end, although his final moments were peaceful.

BOOK SA extends sympathy and condolences to his wife Helen Brain and his family members and friends. We remember him as he was in March, when he received the English Academy Award for translation:

A beautiful and touching ceremony held in Cape Town last night saw translator Luke Stubbs receive an award from the English Academy for exceptional services to South African literature.

Stubbs, who has translated Eben Venter’s Ek stamel, ek sterwe (My Beautiful Death) and more recently, Horrelpoot (Trencherman), is fighting cancer, as his wife, writer and storyteller, Helen Brain records in her insightfully written and darkly funny blog.

Eben Venter himself was on hand, and paid tribute to Stubbs, saying that he must be tired of hearing everyone say how shy and humble he is. Venter experienced a different side of him when working intimately night after night in Prince Albert. “I got to see his dry humour and the wicked comments he’d make. About my protagonist, Marlow, he said, ‘This guy needs to get a life!’” Venter praised Stubbs’ integrity as a translator, remembering occasions when he’d have opted for a “more elegant” phrase. “Luke pulled me back to the original text. In the end, the translation captured my way of phrasing.”

Rest in peace, Luke Stubbs.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    July 20th, 2009 @12:46 #

    So sad to lose such a good man, so terribly sad for his family, the enormity of their loss beyond words. Thank God Luke is beyond pain now. For those who know the family and would like to keep posted, his wife's heart-wrenching blog is at

  • ar
    July 20th, 2009 @13:03 #

    Thinking of you and yours, Helen B. Began reading your blog a while ago... learnt a lot from it. Peace.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Michelle</a>
    July 20th, 2009 @14:22 #

    I didn't know Luke well, but the few times I met him he had this wonderful aura of intelligence and calm, warmed with humour. I was comforted to read that his passing was peaceful in the end. The pain will fade away and he will be remembered for his generous, loving self. Much love to Helen and her family.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    July 20th, 2009 @15:22 #

    Deepest condolences to Helen and her sons, and to everyone who loved Luke. May God be with you all.

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    July 20th, 2009 @17:56 #

    Comments have been restored to this post - feel free to add more at this point. Thanks for your patience.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    July 20th, 2009 @20:53 #

    I never met Luke, but I've only heard (very) good words spoken of him. Condolences to Helen, their kids and his (many) friends.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    July 20th, 2009 @22:20 #

    Rest in Peace, Luke Stubbs. And my condolences to Helen.

    Though I never met him, his name was familiar to me. I met Helen once, in winter last year, I believe.

    I have been following Helen's blog for the past three months and, by the manner of her writing about Luke's illness and the history of their romance, I was drawn into the ambit of sympathy as if I was a long-time family friend. Helen is an amazing writer, and clearly also an amazingly strong and resourceful person. Warm wishes to her.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    July 21st, 2009 @07:23 #

    Thinking of you, Helen, James, Peter and Pip.

    Strength for this part. My candle's still burning for you.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    July 27th, 2009 @11:21 #

    Luke's suffering was very hard to reconcile with my religious faith. The day he died, I felt the universe was simply a random, cold and arbitrary coincidence of whirling particles. But I found the sermon preached at his funeral immensely encouraging and helpful. It was by Denise Ackermann, a theologian and fine human being who is also a superbly gifted writer (see for a quick overview of her writings). For those, like me, who believe (sometimes against all odds), or simply for those who might appreciate a humane and intelligent piece of writing on the most difficult topic of all, here's a link to her sermon:


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