As the 8th Franschhoek Literary Festival draws near, it is advisable to book the writer panel sessions as soon as possible, as they get booked out well in advance. The more well-known the writer/s on the panels, the quicker they are booked out. In addition to an intensive programme of talks from Friday until Sunday this coming weekend (16 – 18 May), entertainment is also available in the evenings.
The Festival is noble in generating funds for the Franschhoek Literary Festival Library Fund, for the following:
* donating books to schools and creches
* employing a librarian to work with four primary school libraries in the Franschhoek area, and part-time library assistants
* visiting schools, reading and story-telling
* Book Week for Young Readers, which is being held this week
* Wine Writers prizes of R12500 each, in two categories: six to eight short pieces of 1000 words each, from a blog or column; and a long piece of 1000 – 4000 words. Winners to be selected by a panel, usually chaired by John Maytham. Last year the prize was not awarded, a very controversial decision which received heavy criticism.
A total of 170 speakers/writers and panel chairpersons is involved in the Franschhoek Literary Festival programme, which is surprising this year in having workshop titles that do not adequately describe what content will be covered in the one-hour sessions, many being very vague. Writing on blogs, and Social Media in general, are not covered at all! Surprising too is that there is no link in any way to Cape Town hosting World Design Capital 2014. Some of the better known writers/speakers are:
* Thomas Keneally, Australian writer of ‘Schindler’s List‘, which became an award-winning movie made by Steven Spielberg.
* Arthur Goldstuck, an IT expert, on a panel about ‘Technovations’, with no description, and other panelists unknown!
* Pieter-Dirk Uys, on a number of panels, including ‘Cape playwrights strut and fret’.
* Tony Leon, on a number of panels, including ‘Mbeki in Hindsight‘ and ‘Politicians between the lines‘.
* Poet Adam Small
* Funny but not-so-nice Marianne Thamm, on a number of panels including ‘Braving Africa’.
* Dr Michael Jordaan, former CEO of FNB, Chairman of Mxit, and recently appointed Chairman of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), on a number of panels, including ‘Business Bundu Bashes’ and ‘Whither the Economy?‘
* Tim Noakes, on a panel entitled ‘Chewing the Fat‘!
* Lindiwe Mazibuko, who has just resigned as Parliamentary Leader of the DA, on a panel debating ‘Past Tense/Future Imperfect’
* Poet Breyten Breytenbach, speaking on ‘The Poet as Novelist‘.
* André Brink, speaking on ‘Literary Doyen’.
* Judge Edwin Cameron, on a panel discussing ‘Subject Judice‘
* Archbishop Desmond Tutu, speaking in a panel about ‘Forgiveness‘.
* Martin Welz, editor of Noseweek, on a panel ‘It is news to me’!
* Reg Lascaris and John Hunt, co-owners of the original Hunt Lascaris (now TBWA Hunt Lascaris), on ‘The Subtle seduction of Advertising’
* Cartoonist Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro), on a ‘Rocking the Boat’ panel with Marianne Thamm and Tony Leon.
Entertainment includes the following:
* Pieter-Dirk Uys: ‘And then there was Madiba…‘ on Friday and Saturday evening
* Christopher Duigan (with Joanne Frankel and Albie van Schalkwyk in some of the concerts) : ‘Mostly Mozart‘ at the NG Church on Friday evening, Saturday morning and Sunday morning, as well as at Café BonBon on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
* Malcolm Gooding: ‘Going Gooding‘ play on Saturday evening.
* Jenny Crwys-Williams dinner at Pierneef à La Motte on Saturday evening.
* Opening of art exhibition at is art on Huguenot Road at 11h00 on Sunday.
Despite being difficult to deal with, and having a poor ability to accept feedback as an accommodation provider to the Festival in the past seven years and as a Festival attendee, Festival Director Jenny Hobbs must be saluted for the hard work she and her team have put into creating the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and in making it an event that sells out Franschhoek over this popular weekend. Hobbs has announced that she is retiring from the Festival in July, to allow her to return to writing full-time. Ann Donald, former journalist, including editor of Fair Lady, and former owner of Kalk Bay Books, will take over the running of the Franschhoek Literary Festival.
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Lindiwe Mazibuko has cancelled her attendance at the Literary Festival in the eleventh hour.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage