Every time I meet someone who’s just attended their first lit fest, I’m surprised that they’re all ooh and ah about how funny the authors are, how entertaining the events were and how all round amazed they are that literary festivals are any fun at all.
Clearly, authors, you need some marketing. Why do people not know how bracing your company is? How amusingly self-deprecating you are? How clever and informed and thoughtful you are?
(Most of you. Some of you are total plonkers, but there’s usually a rotten spot or two in any basket of fruit.)
For the most part though, authors are way more entertaining than their bad hair and crocs give them credit for. So roll up, roll up, all you non-believers and see whose on at the Franschhoek Literary Festival next year in May.
- John Boyne (Ireland) Boyne’s latest novel A History of Loneliness, is a deep and subtle examination of culpability and innocence, about a ‘good priest’ caught up in the scandal following the revelations of abuse within the Catholic Church in Ireland.
- Chris Bradford (England) (Young Samurai series) will be in South Africa for the Book Week for Young Readers programme at schools in the Franschhoek Valley in the days preceding the main festival, and will be part of an event for schools at the main festival, on Friday 15 May.
- Jackie Kay (Scotland/England) Acclaimed poet, short story writer, and memoirist, Kay will participate in a number of events, and will also be part of the judging panel for the high schools’ Poetry for Life finals, which will be held at the FLF (see www.poetryforlife.co.za for information).
- Eshkol Nevo (Israel). Nevo’s latest book, Neuland, will resonate with many South Africans as it explores the need to get away from one’s homeland in order to understand it, and oneself, more deeply and honestly.
- Romain Puertolas (France). The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, Puertolas’s first novel is raking in positive reviews and he’s sure to be a popular panelist at the festival.
- Sarah Waters (England). Waters has a strong fan base in South Africa for her historical fiction, and is sure to attract keen audiences. Her latest novel, The Paying Guests, is perfect holiday reading now in preparation for her appearance at the festival.
And here are some of the Seffrican authors you’ll get to rub shoulders with in the creamy light of late autumn Franschhoek:
- David Attwell (York University). Good news for anyone wanting to get to grips with the work of Coetzee, Attwell will be in Franschhoek to talk about his new book, Face to Face with Time: JM Coetzee and the life of writing, to be published in 2015.
- Belinda Bauer (Wales). Bauer is one of the most exciting crime writers to gain ascendence in recent years. Her latest novel The Facts of Life and Death, is out now.
- Lyndall Gordon (Oxford). The biographer of many beloved literary figures, including Virginia Woolf, the Brontes, and Emily Dickinson, Gordon’s newest book, Divided Lives, is a memoir about her relationship with her extraordinary mother. (Gordon may also be presenting a life-writing masterclass/workshop).
And some of the locals who live on African soil:
- GG Alcock. Alcock’s memoir, Third World Child, is a story of a unique life that could only emerge from South Africa.
- Ekow Duker. A Ghanaian author, based in Johannesburg, Duker has written two well-received novels — Dying in New York and White Wahala.
- Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, author of A Human Being Died that Night, will be at the festival with her new book, Dare We Hope?
- Daisy Jones, winner of the Sunday Times Best Cookbook of the Year Award for Star Fish — a very useful guide to cooking fish from sustainable stocks.
- Zelda la Grange, author of the bestselling memoir, Good Morning, Mr Mandela, will share her memories of Madiba.
- Bongani Madondo, music journalist and author of I’m Not Your Weekend Special: Portraits on the Life + Style and Politics of Brenda Fassie, will add a jazzy note to the lineup.
- Thando Mgqolozana, a powerful voice emerges in the three books by Mgqolozana, A Man Who is Not a Man, Hear Me Alone and Unimportance.
- Emma Sadleir & Tamsyn de Beer (latter still to confirm her attendance), offer don’t-ignore insights into being active on social media in their book Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex.
- Jaco van Schalkwyk, an artist and author whose first book The Alibi Club (also available in Afrikaans) introduces an exciting new voice to the SA literary scene.
There will, of course, be many other familiar names from previous festivals, plus a host of new names still to be confirmed. Details of these authors and participants will be revealed in the new year.
(The programme will be available on the FLF website from mid March 2015 — an announcement will be posted on the FLF website, www.flf.co.za, the Franschhoek Literary Festival Facebook page, and on the Twitter feed, @franlitfest.)