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A fun and fiery fest featuring local and global authors alike – Kate Sidley gives us a sneak peek into FLF 2018…

Published in the Sunday Times

Across the land, writers are rummaging through their wardrobes, looking for a jacket. Because this time next week they’ll be shedding their coffee-stained hoodies, blinking into the sun, and heading to show their wares — books and brains — at the Franschhoek Literary Festival brought to you by Porcupine Ridge and Sunday Times.

Now in its 12th year, FLF is South Africa’s biggest get-together of writers and readers. There are more than 123 events, featuring over 200 writers. And it takes place in one of the prettiest, winiest, foodiest spots in the country. So what can you expect from this year?

It’s going to be fiery

Festival director Shelagh Foster says the nonfiction panels will push people’s buttons. “We’ll be talking about politics and leadership, climate change and drought, feminism. There’s a sense of urgency and impatience, of strong voices and new ideas.” Some top picks: Jacques Rousseau’s session on the scourge of institutional patriarchy and corruption with Prince Mashele, Pallo Jordan, and Ronnie Kasrils; and Richard Poplak discusses the riotous politics of our nation with General Bantu Holomisa and journalist Eric Naki.

It’s going to be fun

Pops Mohamed and Dave Reynolds will be telling magical stories through their music using steelpans, a 10-string harp guitar and African instruments.

It’s going to be global

Foster says that there are more overseas authors this year than ever. The mega popular Kate Mosse and Kate Furnivall are both in the lineup with new historical novels guaranteed to delight your book club. British spy writer Mick Herron — described as “between John Le Carré and Ian Fleming” — and Gregg Hurwitz, author of the Orphan X series.

Our faves will be there

Homegrown crowd-pleasers Redi Tlhabi, Jacques Pauw, Sisonke Msimang, Glynnis Breytenbach, Mandy Wiener, Niq Mhlongo, Deon Meyer, the list goes on, will all be at FLF.

You can write too!

Writers talk about their process. I’ll be talking to international authors Kate Mosse, Orly Castel-Bloom and Maya Fowler about what it actually takes to write for a living. There are workshops on writing for stage and screen with Vaya director Akin Omotoso and others; poetry-writing with Karin Schimke and Jolyn Phillips; essay writing with Hedley Twidle; writing for social media with Gus Silber; and memoir writing with Dianne Stewart.

There will be hidden gems

Stories of coelacanths and lions. Moving personal stories, like the man who was told he would never walk again, but fulfilled his dream of finishing the Dakar Rally. Stories of adoption, and surviving cancer and abuse and heartache. Stories of overcoming. Stories that stay with you.


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