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Programme for the 2014 Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival (24 – 26 July)

The 2014 Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival is set to take place in Cradock from 24 to 26 July, bringing book lovers close encounters with well-loved authors on this weekend dedicated to the memory of Olive Schreiner – a native of Cradock.

Interviews with Neville AlexanderCobraKlimtolThe Story of an African FarmAgter+bladRough Passages

The programme includes presentations by Niël Stemmet, Deon Meyer, Etienne van Heerden, Stephen Gray and Gordon Wright. The programme also features the launch of Interviews with Neville Alexander by Brigitta Busch, Lucijan Busch and Karen Press with readings from passages relating to Alexander’s childhood in Cradock.

Have a look at the programme and press release to see what you can expect:

Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival Programme

Press release:

Bookings started coming two hours after the announcement of a strong and varied programme for the 5th annual Schreiner: Karoo Writers Festival (Cradock 24 to 26 July 2014).

“This year’s event promises to take the event to new heights with a line-up of talks and events appealing to a range of audiences,” said Professor Paul Walters who chairs the festival organising committee. “Highlights include live interviews with icons of the international fiction landscape: Etienne van Heerden and Deon Meyer.”

Lovers of reading, writing and the Karoo can look forward to personal interaction with renowned authors and literati as well as maximum opportunity to kuier with like-minded spirits. Intimacy is a key element of this festival.

Thursday (24 July) is workshop day. New in the festival mix is an all-day writing workshop for adults, focused on writing about the Karoo. The group is limited to 12 participants to ensure maximum benefits. The mentor is Gillian Rennie of Rhodes University – she teaches in both the School of Journalism and the MA in Creative Writing course. A confirmed ‘Karooster’, she lived in Nieu Bethesda for 10 years and is a widely experienced writer, editor and writing coach.

On Thursday afternoon, a group of Cradock matrics will brainstorm trends and careers in design, lifestyle and food with Karoo heritage style guru, Niël Stemmet (of sout+peper fame). Stemmet’s adult fans can attend as observers.

Thursday evening sees the first of a number of festival book launches. The publication of Interviews with Neville Alexander (UKZN Press, edited by Karen Press et al) will be celebrated at the Sonskyndienssentrum in Michausdal with readings from the chapter on Alexander’s childhood in Cradock.

Friday morning (25 July) continues the Karoo theme with one of the region’s more influential voices – Antony (Stoep Zen) Osler – setting the tone. Paul Walters will then offer insights into letters between Eve Palmer and her sister-in-law during the writing of The Plains of Camdeboo. Visitors who prefer to stretch their legs can join the Literary Walking Tour of Old Cradock led by Brian Wilmot who started the popular walking tours in Grahamstown. As a pre-lunch aperitif, Stephen Gray will launch his new collection of poetry, Rough Passage.

Heritage food champion, Niël Stemmet takes over at noon, presenting his latest book: back+page – heritage food word journeys (Lapa, 2014). The event includes a Harvest Table lunch presented by Cradock’s Andalet Olivier, with inspirations from Stemmet’s sout+peper.

After lunch, travel blogger “The Incidental Tourist”, Dawn Jorgensen will lead a workshop on social media. This is selling out fast.

Instead of the workshop, foodies can opt to share ideas on foraging with Gordon Wright (author of Veld to Fork) and artisanal distiller Roger Jorgensen.

A tour of Lingelihle township’s historic landmarks and a chance to meet residents and hear their stories is another option for Friday afternoon.

As the shadows lengthen, Chris and Julienne Marais of Karoo Keepsakes fame present their exciting new e-books as well as the Afrikaans translations of their two Karoo best-sellers.

Randall Wicomb is the star of the evening. His concert is presented by the Cradock 200 committee as a contribution to the festival. Randall has promised Cradock a memorable experience, featuring highlights from his 30-year career as a poet, musician, performer. He will include some of the haunting Griqua Psalms as well as numbers from his latest album, Êrens is Jy, featuring popular and literary love poems set to music.

Saturday (26 July) starts with a Schreiner focus. Editors Professor Liz Stanley and Dr Andrea Salter (both based at Edinburgh University) will present the new volume of Schreiner letters, The World’s Great Question, published by the Van Riebeeck Society. The collection includes over 300 of Olive Schreiner’s key letters on South African people, politics and its racial order. In Stanley’s words: ‘They are often prophetic and can still send shivers down the spine. Immensely readable and insightful.’

Professor Tony Voss (resident in Australia) will talk about the early Olive Schreiner novel, Undine and the clues it gives to what she read as a child. “She was no ordinary child and no ordinary reader,” he says. Hogsback’s own Fullbright Scholar, Lucy Graham, will discuss Lilian Ncgobo’s fictional response to Olive’s Schreiner’s last novel, From Man to Man.

There are two parallel sessions on Saturday morning (26 July). In the first, Cradock matrics will watch the Karoo Film Company’s feature film Die Balade van Robbie de Wee (English sub-titles) and then Deon Meyer will explain how he wrote the film (which was directed by Darryl Roodt). Adults can attend as observers.

In the second parallel session, skrik-vir-niks writer/eco-adventurer Patricia Glyn will present an illustrated talk on what she refers to as her “Bushman adventures”.

At midday, the festival moves to Schreiner House for a finger lunch and the launch of a comprehensive new interpretive display on Schreiner’s life and work. Professor Dirk Klopper (of Rhodes Department of English) is the speaker.

Two live interviews headline the afternoon proceedings. Etienne Van Heerden will share memories of his childhood and how they influence his writing. Deon Meyer will discuss his latest thriller, Cobra (Kobra). He and the novel (already translated into a number of languages) have been received to huge acclaim at major international book fairs this year including Dubai and Lyon (France).

The day’s formal business ends with the popular Open Microphone session where a variety of the writers present short readings from their own and other works. This leads into an informal tapas evening followed by a second screening of Die Balade van Robbie de Wee (English sub-titles).

Along with momentous literary encounters, visitors can expect lots of surprises and discoveries along with programme favourites – including readings, impromptu chats, stoep sitting, book sales, great food and excursions. (Planning is underway for the traditional ‘pilgrimage’ to the Schreiner sarcophagus on Sunday 27 July.)

For the full programme and booking form contact


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