This year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival has a notable selection of international and pan-African authors taking part in the programme’s 80 plus sessions.
Among the authors from across the continent who will be in Franschhoek during the weekend of Friday 19th – Sunday 21st May, is award-winning Zimbabwean author, Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu. Her bestselling novel, The Theory of Flight, won the 2019 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, followed by The History of Man (2020) and The Quality of Mercy (2022), which completed the trilogy. Ndlovu also won the prestigious Wingham Campbell Prize in 2022, administered by Yale University. Ndlovu will be in conversation with Pumla Dineo Gqola on 21 May in the session THE PRACTICE OF FLIGHT. She will also take part in PENS OF POWER (20 May) where she is joined by Sue Nyathi in a discussion with Joanne Joseph on whether storytelling can serve as a weapon of hope and change, within the context of the authors’ fictional visions of Zimbabwean history.
Zimbabwean author Sue Nyathi, author of four novels – The Polygamist (2012), The Gold Diggers (2018), The Family Affair (2020) and An Angel’s Demise (2022), also takes part in WHY FICTION? on 19 May. During what promises to be an intimate and inspiring session, Gail Schimmel will explore the social roles and personal motivations of creating fiction with Nyathi, Rachel Joyce and Margie Orford.
Rwandan author Pie-Pacifique Kabalira-Uwase shares his astonishing story of fleeing tragedy in Rwanda in the session UNSTOPPABLE on 21 May. Sihle Khumalo delves into Kabalira-Uwase’s journey from car guard to receiving a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship and starting a thriving company.
Two Pan-African authors join the festival via Zoom. In the 20 May session TRAP OF THE PAST, Joy Watson meets Nigerian writer Aiwanose Odafen whose debut novel Tomorrow I Become a Woman – a gripping exploration of patriarchal violence, forbidden love and cultural conflict – has been acclaimed as ‘searing and beautifully rendered’. On the same day, in the session CONTINENTAL DRAUGHT, Jonny Steinberg goes myth-busting with Dipo Faloyin (via Zoom), author of Africa is Not a Country, an irreverent celebration of the African continent and its dizzying diversity.
Booker longlisted Rachel Joyce is part of an impressive contingent of international writers heading to the Franschhoek Valley. Joyce is the author of several Sunday Times and international bestsellers, including her trilogy The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy & Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North (new). She will be visiting FLF just after the UK release (28 April) of the film version of Commonwealth Book prize shortlisted and Booker Prize longlisted The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which stars Jim Broadbent and Penelope Wilton. Festivalgoers can get to know Joyce in a trio of sessions at FLF 2023 – TIME TRAVEL 101, READ IT AND WEEP and WHY FICTION?
One of this year’s most powerful sessions is likely to be THE RELEASE which sees Marina Cantacuzino, author of Forgiveness: An Exploration, in conversation with former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. The forgiveness of self and others creates a restorative narrative with the power to transform lives, yet how does one actually forgive at a deep level? Cantacuzino spent 18 years learning about forgiveness, and the backlash that may accompany what is often a very challenging process. She will also participate in the two other sessions relating to apology and forgiveness, SORRY BEYOND WORDS and LETTING IT GO.
Are today’s literary novelists too safe and genre-bound? In a thought-provoking session titled UNHEARD OF Margie Orford (on Zoom) talks creative rule-breaking with the risk-tolerant Maddie Mortimer (UK), author of Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies which won the Desmond Elliott Prize and was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2022. Also joining the festival from her home base in London via Zoom is celebrated comedian Ruby Wax who talks to Sarah Bullen in JA WELL, NOT FINE about her latest and most significant book yet on mental health, I’m Not as Well as I Thought I Was.
Poetry lovers will not want to miss PLATH, BEYOND THE MYTH which sees Dominique Botha talk with Heather Clark (via Zoom) about her biography of a genius who has been reduced to the image of her suicide in contemporary culture. Clark’s Red Comet:The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, magisterially corrects the picture.
In the session HIDDEN HERO on May 20th, Tony Leon interviews Jonathan Freedland (via Zoom) about his gripping new book The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World, and asks how the incredible story of Rudolf Vrba deepens our comprehension of the Holocaust. Rounding off the list of international authors is Ann Cleeves whom Pippa Hudson meets via Zoom in the session ADAPTABILITY. Cleeves’ acclaimed novels have given the world three compelling TV sleuths – Vera Stanhope (Vera), Jimmy Perez (Shetland) and Matthew Venn (The Long Call), and the discussion will touch on why her thrillers are so perfectly suited to the screen.
The festival thanks FLF 2023 partners including Franschhoek Wine Valley, FLF founding sponsor Porcupine Ridge, official FLF bookstore Exclusive Books, as well as sponsors News24, Ninety One SA, Yellowwoods Social Investments, Jonathan Ball Publishers, NB Publishers, PanMacmillan, Pam Golding Properties, Discovery and venue sponsors Le Quartier Français and Sterrekopje.