The Franschhoek Literary Festival 2023 programme went live on 17 March, showcasing a compelling and content-rich programme that has been curated with a focus on books published in the last year. Tickets for several events are almost sold out, so don’t dally or you’ll miss out.
Among the more than 100 authors who will be in Franschhoek, is Johnny Steinberg, whose Winnie & Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage, is one of the most anticipated reads of 2023. Described as a ‘shattering, revelatory account of a relationship that shaped South Africa’s journey to freedom’, it is published just weeks before the festival starts. Successful American-British comedian, TV writer and performer Ruby Wax will join live via Zoom from her home in England, to talk about her most revelatory book yet on mental health, I’m Not as Well as I Thought I Was.
Other local and international authors in attendance with recently published books include Zimbabwe’s critically acclaimed Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, with the final instalment of her trilogy, The Quality of Mercy; Pie-Pacifique Kabalira-Uwase whose book Witnessing tells his astonishing story of fleeing tragedy in Rwanda to South Africa; international award-winning author, Rachel Joyce (The Unlikely Genius of Harold Fry series); Sihle Khumalo (Milk the Beloved Country) and ‘queen of South African crime fiction’ Margie Orford (The Eye of the Beholder).
Alongside these are a select number of writers who have won prizes over the past 12 months. These include Joanne Joseph whose Children of Sugarcane won the Adult Fiction Prize at the SA Book Awards 2022, Mignonne Breier who won the 2022 Sunday Times Literary Award for non-fiction for Bloody Sunday, Tshidiso Moletsane whose Junx, won the 2022 Sunday Times Fiction Award and Maddie Mortimer who won the Desmond Elliott Prize 2022 for Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies.
Festival goers can engage with thought-leaders , amongst them, Adriaan Basson and Ferial Haffajee, who will explore the future of South Africa beyond the 2024 elections with Songezo Zibi (Manifesto), Prince Mashele (The Outsider) and Pieter du Toit (The ANC Billionaires). Lester Kiewit will meet two chroniclers of outsider life – Chase Rhys, whose book Misfit: Stories vannie anne kant is collection of his acclaimed pieces in Kaaps, and Welcome Mandla Lishivha whose Boy On The Run is a memoir of growing up queer in a township.
The festival welcomes Antjie Krog who will be in conversation with Dominique Botha about Pillage, her first collection of poetry in eight years. In a session titled Extreme Conditions, Pippa Hudson explores inner and outer wilds with pioneering explorer Saray Khumalo (My Journey to the Top of the World) and Louisa Zondo (Dearest MaRiky), who climbed Mount Everest in the aftermath of the suicide of her son, rap star Riky Rick. Afrikaans literature readers will also have two sessions in Afrikaans to choose from – Bloedhonde, with seasoned crime writers Rudie van Rensburg and Irma Venter, and Sheila Cussons 100 where Amanda Botha will talk to Adriaan Potgieter about his book about this important Afrikaans poet, In die Klipknoets van Haar Vuis.
Evening events include Nataniël and Charl du Plessis in concert, and a magical evening with poets and storytellers titled Words Fly Under Night Skies.
These are just a handful of the sessions that help cement FLF’s standing as one of the major South African literary events of 2023.
‘The programme captures the times that we are in,’ says Elitha van der Sandt, Franschhoek Literary Festival Director. ‘It digs into the dark corners as strife and upheaval creatively found its way onto the pages. There is something to stimulate the intellectual curiosity of all book lovers, from traumatic and painful stories to ones that are light-hearted and fun. The state of our country also comes into sharp focus, through sessions and books that both shine a light and offer ways forward. There are stories set in the wild and for those wild at heart, sparking meaningful engagement between author and reader. Set in the beautiful Franschhoek, it’s an autumn event worth having in your calendar.’
As part of keeping the audience at the centre of the festival, two memberships are now available: the 2023 Festival Membership and 2023 Patron Membership. Both give benefits to book lovers while also directly supporting Franschhoek Reading, the FLF community literacy initiative which raises funds for local community school libraries, training and placing of assistant school librarians.
While the FLF is without doubt the star of the weekend of Friday 19th – Sunday 21st May, together with key partner Franschhoek Wine Valley, the festival organisers promise a getaway that is also about wine and culinary experiences and stepping into nature in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The FLF programme is available to view on the Franschhoek Literary Festival website www.flf.co.za. Bookings open for members on March 10th with general public booking opening on March 17th.
The festival thanks FLF 2023 partner Franschhoek Wine Valley, FLF founding sponsor Porcupine Ridge, official FLF bookstore Exclusive Books, as well as sponsors News24, Yellowwoods Social Investments, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Ninety One SA, NB Publishers, PanMacmillan, Pam Golding Properties, Le Quartier Français and Sterrekopje.