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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

“I am an African”: Wilbur Smith Proclaims His Love for African History (Video)

Desert GodTop Billing recently visited Wilbur Smith at his home in Cape Town, which he calls “The loveliest city in Africa, and therefore in the world”.

“I am an African, it is the one place I feel comfortable and at home,” he says.

Smith, whose most recent book is Desert God, the fifth in his Ancient Egyptian series, which began with River God in 1994, and following that were The Seventh Scroll (1995), Warlock (2001) and The Quest (2007), says a lot of historical research goes into his writing.

“I used to read all African histories that I could lay my hands on, before I even thought of writing a novel about it,” he says. “So I had a firm background, and I’ve just enlarged upon that as I’ve gone forward.”

Smith also recalls the time he went to the UK as a young writer: “I went to London particularly to cover myself in glory and see the crowds cheering in the streets, but that didn’t happen.

“I went around the bookstores to see if I was on the number one bestseller list, and that didn’t happen. So I finally headed back to Africa, to my home, where I was loved.”

Watch the video for the end of the anecdote:


The legendary African author Wilbur Smith invites Top Billing into his home and tells us about his extraordinary life and his new novel Desert God.

In this Top Billing exclusive, Nico visits the acclaimed author Wilbur Smith at his South African home. With about 50 years of writing experience and over 130 million books sold, Wilbur has quite the collection to show off to Nico. He shares some of his most prized memorabilia and relates anecdotes from the 1960s when he started out as a young writer. His work has been translated into 26 languages, he’s signed a ground-breaking deal to co-author six new books and at 81 he’s happily married, still travels the world and remains on top of his game. Find out how he does it and what his advice is to young writers while recapping his career thus far.

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