Modjaji Books is enormously thrilled to have at least seven authors featured at Franschoek this year: Arja Salafranca, Meg Vandermerwe, Jane Katjavivi, Finuala Dowling (who is mostly there as a Kwela author is also wearing her Difficult to Explain hat at the Can you Teach Creative Writing session), Malika Ndlovu, Tracey Farren, Dawn Garisch (Modjaji is bringing out two of Dawn’s books this year, Difficult Gifts her debut poetry collection in June and a non-fiction later in the year).
If you want to find Modjaji authors at the FLF I have outlined their key sessions below, with some extra info and gossip. No, not quite gossip. I am looking forward to a fabulous weekend, although I am really sorry that Ivan Vladislavic has had to cancel. If you’re going – I hope to see you there, somewhere …
: The Write Honourables (Hospice Hall)
What price literary prizes? A day ahead of the Sunday Times shortlist announcements, Justin Cartwright, winner of the 2005Fiction Prize, Henrietta Rose-Innes and Olufemi Terry, former and current winners of the Caine Prize, talk about what it means to win and quiz Books Editor Tymon Smith about the problems of choosing judges. (I hope they will mention this year’s Caine Prize short list and that Modjaji author, Lauri Kubuitsile’s story from the Bed Book of Short Stories “In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata” has been shortlisted, much to our huge delight. And just as a footnote, sort of, The Bed Book of Short Stories had its first of many launches at the Franschoek Literary Festival last year.)
: Letters to South Africa (School Hall)
Stellenbosch English professor Leon de Kock and some of the poets and rappers in the Umuzi book discuss and perform their South African versions of Allan Ginsberg’s famous Letter to America. (Malika Ndlovu is taking part in this event; watch this blog for big news re Malika and her book Invisible Earthquake, will be posting next week.)
: Sukkels With Subsequent Novels (Hospice Hall)
Success with a novel is a great achievement – and then the publisher demands another. Tan Twan Eng (The Gift of Rain), Tracey Farren (Whiplash) and Andrew Brown (Sunday Times prizewinner Coldsleep Lullabye, followed by Refuge) unload the problems of following a good act to publisher Jeremy Boraine.
: Blood, Guts, Sweat & Tears (Church Hall)
Three doctors who write, Rosamund Kendal (The Angina Monologues), Dawn Garisch (Trespass) and James Clelland (Deeper Than Colour), put aside their stethoscopes to talk about their books with crime writer Jassy Mackenzie.
(Dawn’s poetry collection will be launched at Kalk Bay Books on the 8th June if you want to diarise that.)
: Lekker English on the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible (Council Chamber)
Linguistics professor Rajend Mesthrie of UCT (Dictionary of South African Indian English) and poet and writer Arja Salafranca (The Thin Line) celebrate the glories of the English language and our evolving South African versions.
: Writing Me (Congregational Church)
Autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last instalment missing, said Quentin Crisp. Zakes Mda (Sometimes There is a Void ), Janice Galloway (This is Not About Me) and Namibia’s Jane Katjavivi (Undisciplined Heart) argue the issue with Jenny Crwys-Williams. (Jane Katjavivi is here from Namibia on this very prestigious panel. A huge thrill for Modjaji Books.)
Can You Teach Writing? (Council Chamber)
Flannery O’Connor said: ‘Everywhere I go, I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.’ True or just glib? Leon de Kock, Head of English at Stellenbosch, stirs the issue with creative writing teachers and writers Kei Miller, Finuala Dowling and Kobus Moolman. (Difficult to Explain, edited by Finuala Dowling is a key text in this discussion, edited by Finuala, and a treasure for teachers of creative writing, poets still honing their craft, school teachers, lovers of poetry, hmmm, who have I left out?)
: Short Stories Africa (Council Chamber)
Short fiction is no longer in the publishing wilderness. UCT’s Harry Garuba talks to short story writers Doreen Baingana (Tropical Fish), Henrietta Rose-Innes (Homing) and Meg Vandermerwe (This Place I Call Home) about their work (Don’t forget Short Story Day South if you are a fan of the form. Rachel Zadok is spearheading a campaign to get us in the Southern Hemisphere to celebrate short stories on the shortest day of the year in the south, the 21st June.)
: Secret Women’s Business (Council Chamber)
Edyth Bulbring uses the Australian Aboriginal concept of a place where women go to discuss their affairs to delve into the writing lives of Doreen Baingana (Tropical Fish), Marguerite Abouet, the graphic author of the Aya series, and poet and writer Arja Salafranca (The Thin Line). (Arja is appearing on two panels – this is her second and last one.)
: Love Stories (Hospice Hall)
Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books talks romance with Fiona Snyckers (Trinity on Air), Nani Mhlanga (Her Forever After), Sapphire Press editor Lindsay van Rensburg and Nollybooks publisher Moky Makura. (I am chairing this session, so if romance is your thing or if you are interested in current strategies to popularise reading in South Africa, don’t miss this one. And as you may or may not know, I have just had a second collection of poems published called Lava Lamp Poems, which doesn’t count as romance, but this a good spot to do a tiny plug. If I don’t who will?)