Book your spot now for these key events at the 2023 Franschhoek Literary Festival

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Illustration of a man reading a book. (Image: Getty)
Illustration of a man reading a book. (Image: Getty)

EVENT: The 2023 Franschhoek Literary Festival

Booking for the 2023 Franschhoek Literary Festival, which takes place from 19 to 21 May in the historic Western Cape town, is now open to the public – those who are not members or have special access. Among the key events of a very full festival are: 

19 May 

Opening the festival is a News24 breakfast that looks at South Africa’s possible futures. News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson, together with News24’s Qaanitah Hunter and commentators Ferial Haffajee and Prince Mashele will ask what happens after the 2024 elections, when the ANC is likely to fall below a 50% majority and coalitions will be the order of the day. These and other pressing questions will be up for discussion. 

Later the same day, Judge Dennis Davis will surely pick up on some of the issues raised at the News24 breakfast. He will talk to Richard Calland and Mabel Sithole, authors of The Presidents: From Mandela to Ramaphosa, Leadership in the Age of Crisis, about the decline of the ANC from triumphant liberation movement to an inefficient, corrupt government staggering through the many crises that beset South Africa. 

The problem of processing trauma will be the focus of a discussion, led by broadcaster John Maytham, with Margie Orford (The Eye of the Beholder), Lester Walbrugh (Elton Baatjies) and Tracey Hawthorne (Flipped). It will ask whether fiction is a useful way to help us confront and work through personal or national trauma.

Orford also features on a panel with Rachel Joyce and Sue Nyathi, talking to Gail Schimmel about the social and personal drivers of fiction-writing.

At the same time but in a different venue, Koketso Sachane will be in conversation with memoir-writers Herman Lategan (Hoerkind) and Melinda Ferguson (Bamboozled) about writing self-focused narratives, and later the same day Sarah-Jayne Makwala King (Mad Bad Love) and Pamela Power (My Year of Not Getting Sh*tfaced) pick up on memoirs, in a chat with Joy Watson

Perhaps of further relevance to the trauma theme, Marina Cantacuzino will discuss forgiveness with former public protector Thuli Madonsela on 19 May at 13:00. Forgiveness of self and others can create a restorative narrative – or can it? 

The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford.
The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford.

20 May

News24’s Pieter du Toit, author of the bestselling book The ANC Billionaires, and Chris Bishop, whose BEE Billionaires came out recently, will talk to journalist Carol Paton about the rise of South Africa’s “empowerment oligarchy”. Whitey Basson, one of South Africa’s richest men, will be interviewed by Bruce Whitfield in another session on the same day. 

Dominque Botha (Bloodwood) and Antjie Krog, whose latest volume appeared in both English and Afrikaans, as Pillage and Plunder respectively, discuss Krog’s powerful reflection on family, land and plunder. 

Ferial Haffajee and Prince Mashele return for another discussion of South Africa’s possible futures, this time with Pieter du Toit and Songezo Zibi, who is building a new movement in South Africa’s politics, taking on the issues outlined in his book Manifesto

Joanne Joseph (Children of Sugarcane) will talk about fictional renditions of history and politics, in this case particularly to do with Zimbabwe, with authors Sue Nyathi (An Angel’s Demise) and Gloria Siphiwe Ndlovu (The Quality of Mercy). 

In another session to do with memoirs and writing from life, Lester Kiewit talks to Chase Rhys (Misfits) and Welcome Mandla Lishivha (Boy on the Run) about the chronicling of “outsider life”. 

André de Ruyter’s tenure at Eskom, his resignation and subsequent poisoning, as well as the fall-out that followed revelations made in a TV interview, has kept South Africans’ attention on the failing parastatal. Kyle Cowan, author of Sabotage: Eskom Under Siege, interviews De Ruyter about the rolling catastrophe that is South Africa’s power utility. 

An Angel's Demise by Sue Nyathi
An Angel's Demise by Sue Nyathi.

21 May 

Dennis Davis is back to interview Mignonne Breier, author of the Sunday Times Award-winning book about an all-but-forgotten massacre, Bloody Sunday

Eve Fairbanks, whose book The Inheritors probes post-apartheid South Africa through the lives of three South Africans, will discuss her work with psychologist Wamuwi Mbao. 

And that’s just a fraction of the events at the Franschhoek Literary Festival. See the full programme here and start booking now. Watch this space for more on the festival. 

The Inheritors
The Inheritors by Eve Fairbanks. (Jonathan Ball)

News24 is a sponsor of the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

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