Prolific Australian novelist Bryce Courtenay, who sold more than 20 million books, has died aged 79, his publisher said in a statement Friday.
The South African-born Courtenay gave up a 30-year career in advertising to be a full-time writer after the success of his first novel, The Power Of One, in 1989.
The account of growing up under South Africa’s apartheid system sold 8 million copies and was translated into 18 languages and made into a Hollywood film.
Courtenay, who left South Africa when he was 17, railed against literary snobbery, insisting that the worth of a writer be judged by book sales.
“What’s the point in being an unpopular writer? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. For me it doesn’t, anyway,” he told national broadcaster ABC. “I’m essentially an entertainer and a storyteller.” Courtenay died of cancer Thursday in his Canberra home.