Popular Aussie author Courtenay dies

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bryce courtenay REUTERS Author Bryce Courtenay speaks to a fan at a booksigning in Sydney. File photo: Photo: REUTERS/David Gray

Sydney - One of Australia's best-selling and most popular authors Bryce Courtenay, who shot to prominence with his first book “The Power Of One”, has died aged 79, his family said on Friday.

The South African-born Courtenay, who moved to Australia in the 1950s and sold more than 20 million books, had been suffering from stomach cancer and passed away at his Canberra home on Thursday.

“We'd like to thank all of Bryce's family and friends and all of his fans around the world for their love and support for me and his family as he wrote the final chapter of his extraordinary life,” his wife Christine said on Facebook.

“And may we make a request for privacy as we cherish his memory.”

Courtenay's biggest success was “The Power of One”, about a young English boy raised during the apartheid era in South Africa.

It was made into a successful movie starring Stephen Dorff, John Gielgud, and Morgan Freeman, with James Bond star Daniel Craig appearing in his first major film role.

Courtenay did not let his fight with cancer slow him down, with his final book, “Jack of Diamonds”, being released this month.

He knew he was dying and in a moving epilogue in the book he wrote: “It's been a privilege to write for you and to have you accept me as a storyteller in your lives.

“Now, as my story draws to an end, may I say only, Thank you. You have been simply wonderful.” - Sapa-AFP

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