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2016 Time of the Writer Festival heading to Clermont, Cato Manor, Umlazi, Inanda and KwaMashu

 
The Centre for Creative Arts has announced a change in venues and a special programme for the Time of the Writer festival this year, under the theme Decolonising the Book.

The 19th edition of the Durban festival will take place from 14 to 19 March, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality Libraries Department. The day programme this year will take place in these libraries.

In addition, the Time of the Writer is shifting venues for its evening panel discussions. These are usually held at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, but this year they will each take place in a different location across the surrounding areas of Durban, in Clermont, Cato Manor, Umlazi, Inanda and KwaMashu.

All events will be free to library or student card holders. People without either will be charged a nominal fee of R20.

The developments follow a conversation around inclusiveness in South African literature sparked at last year’s festival by Thando Mgqolozana, which culminated in him announcing at the Franschhoek Literary Festival that he was quitting the “white literary system”.

The CCA says it is hoping to gather leading voices from every facet of literature in the areas of writing, editing, publishing, translation, marketing, bookselling and promotion, to provide a platform for conversation and debate on this issues of transformation and the growth of literature.

“This theme aims to interrogate the central question of how to go about decolonising literature in South Africa, from writing to readership,” the CCA says in a statement.

Tiny Mungwe, festival manager at the Centre for Creative Arts, says: “We are very excited about the plans for this year’s festival, which came about as a result of a growing call from within the literary world and South Africa as whole for increased diversity, access and inclusiveness.

“The Centre for Creative Arts would like to acknowledge one of South Africa’s leading writers, Thando Mgqolozana, who has been very vocal about change in our society and has assisted in the programming of this edition of the festival.

“The change is very big for us and by breaking from years of tradition we will have another set of operational challenges, but it is something we believe is absolutely crucial for the festival and for the face of literature in South Africa if we are to effect some kind of shift in our thinking.”

The full 2016 Time of the Writer programme will be announced in a few weeks.

 
Related stories:

See some of Books LIVE’s coverage of last year’s event:

 

 

Special programme for 19th Time of the Writer, 14 - 19 March 2016

 

19th Time of the Writer | 14 – 19 March 2016

 
The Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) is proud to announce a change in venues and a special programme for the 19th Time of The Writer, which takes place from 14 to 19 March in Durban, under the theme Decolonising the Book.

A nationwide conversation on inclusiveness in the South African literature landscape began at the 2015 edition of Time of the Writer, sparked off by South African writer Thando Mgqolozana. In order to provide a platform for conversation and debate on this issue, this year’s edition of the festival will gather the leading voices from every facet of literature in the areas of writing, editing, publishing, translation, marketing, bookselling and promotion (including events), to deliberate on the salient issues pertinent to the transformation and growth of literature in South Africa. This theme aims to interrogate the central question of how to go about decolonising literature in South Africa, from writing to readership.

Conversations that Matter is a daytime programme of roundtable discussions, led by experts across the various fields of literature, that provides a space for people to share and contribute towards this vital topic. The nightly evening panels will then feature a summative discussion on the day’s deliberations.

The 19th edition of the festival is presented in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality Libraries department in whose libraries the day programme will take place.

This year’s edition of the festival features a shift in venue for the evening panels as each day the festival will take place in a different location across the surrounding areas of Durban; venues are located in Clermont, Cato Manor, Umlazi, Inanda and KwaMashu.

“We are very excited about the plans for this year’s festival, which came about as a result of a growing call from within the literary world and South Africa as whole for increased diversity, access and inclusiveness. The Centre for Creative Arts would like to acknowledge one of South Africa’s leading writers Thando Mgqolozana who has been very vocal about change in our society and has assisted in the programming of this edition of the festival,” says Tiny Mungwe, festival manager at the Centre for Creative Arts. “The change is very big for us and by breaking from years of tradition we will have another set of operational challenges, but it is something we believe is absolutely crucial for the festival and for the face of literature in South Africa if we are to effect some kind of shift in our thinking.”

The line-up of writers and venues will be announced in a few weeks time.

All events FREE to library or student cardholders. For members of the public without either card, a nominal fee of R20 will be requested at the door one hour before the event.

For more details about this years’ Time of the Writer, visit the festival web page or call (031) 260 2506

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University KwaZulu-Natal), the 19th Time of the Writer is supported by the City of Durban, the National Department of Arts and Culture, The Goethe-Institut and the French Institute of South Africa. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

Author Q and A: Samuel Bjork, author of I'm Travelling Alone

Published in the Sunday Times

I'm Travelling AloneI’m Travelling Alone
Samuel Bjørk (Penguin Random House)

Where do you write best?
At home, at night, in the dark, when the world around me is quiet.

What books are on your bedside table?
I never have books on my bedside table, it makes me think about writing, and then I can’t sleep.

What music helps you write?
I usually need silence to concentrate, but if I need to get pumped up I play Sonic Youth.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done when researching a book?
I downloaded and listened to private phone calls between a cult leader and his eight wives. I will never do that again. I’m still scared.

What is the last thing that you read that made you laugh out loud?
I really can’t remember, I must be reading books that are too serious. I’ll have to do something about that.

What are you most proud of writing?
A short scene in I’m Travelling Alone, where four journalists get only one minute to decide which one of two girls gets to live, and which one has to die. If they can’t decide, both girls die. I feel that scene was perfectly executed.

What keeps you awake at night?
Work, especially if I’m not happy with my plans for my next book.

Which book changed your life?
Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho.

How would you earn your living if you had to give up writing?
I would make more music, and write songs for other artists.

What are you working on next?
The third book in the series about Holger Munch and Mia Krüger.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“It was dark.” “It was cold.” I live in Norway. Our climate can be very depressing.

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Book details

The weight of memory: Michele Magwood discusses Letters of Stone with Steven Robins

A tragic history emerges from an old photograph and a cache of letters, writes Michele Magwood for the Sunday Times

Letters of StoneLetters of Stone – From Nazi Germany to South Africa
Steven Robins (Penguin Books)
****

At the beginning of this devastating book Steven Robins quotes the writer WG Sebald on the subject of memories: “If they remained locked away, they would become heavier and heavier as time went on, so that in the end I would succumb under their mounting weight.”

Letters of Stone is the story of the weight of memory, of the burden of guilt and regret; of the obliteration of hope, of identity, of human beings.

Robins grew up in Port Elizabeth in the ’60s and ’70s in a thoroughly anglicised, secular Jewish home. He was aware, as children so often are, of unspoken things. In the dining room an old photograph of three women watched over their meals. He was vaguely aware that they were family members but he never asked who they were, and no one ever spoke of them. It would be many years before he learnt that they were his father’s mother, Cecilie, and his sisters Edith and Hildegard, and that they had died in the Holocaust. His father went to his grave without ever mentioning them. “There was a silence that completely shrouded anything about them,” he says.

Robins is a professor of anthropology at Stellenbosch University and he speaks in the cadences of a man used to debating, analysing and explaining. He writes in this tone, too. At first one presumes it is because he is an academic: he lacks the artistry of Edmund de Waal in The Hare With Amber Eyes, the dramatic skill of Mark Gevisser in Lost and Found in Johannesburg, the rich idiom of Dov Fedler’s Out of Line, all family histories dealing with the extermination of Jews in World War II. What Robins does, instead, is let the material speak eloquently for itself.

“I thought if I got too closely caught up in the emotions of the story it would swallow me up,” he says, “and I also didn’t want to burden the reader too much with the heaviness.”

Robins’s father, Herbert Robinski, escaped from Germany to South Africa in 1936; his younger brother, Arthur, settled in what was then Northern Rhodesia. They left behind their parents, their sisters, and another brother, Siegfried, who hoped to follow them. Over the years, all Robins was able to learn was that they had perished in Auschwitz and Riga. Having come to a dead end with his research, he visited Berlin in 2000, laid commemorative Stolpersteine outside their home, and believed he was closing the chapter.

And then, in 2012, while clearing out their parents’ flat in Sea Point, Arthur’s children found a cache of old letters. They were written mostly by Cecilie to her sons in Africa, reporting on their days in an increasingly frightening Berlin, and their futile attempts to leave. The quotidian details of their doomed lives are heartbreaking: a new felt hat, card games with coffee and cake, the scarcity of matzos, and the constant gathering of papers to help them emigrate.

At last Robins was able to “hear” their voices. Indomitable Cecilie, keeping up a cheerful front; her quiet husband David; proud, spirited Edith; and Hildegard, who it is clear was disabled. The years pass, Cecilie’s optimism begins to wear thin, and as readers we watch the dates on the letters with dread, knowing what lies ahead. And after the last letter, silence.

There is another important strand to this story which emerged for Robins when he was researching a forebear in the Karoo – the work of the German professor Eugen Fischer, a pioneer of eugenics and racial science. Fischer conducted experiments on the Baster people of what was then German Southwest Africa before returning to institute his diabolical programmes in Nazi Germany. Southern Africa was his laboratory.

As an anthropologist, this was crucial for Robins. “I didn’t want it to be yet another holocaust narrative that didn’t deal with the broader implications. I’m hoping this book does something different, that it draws wider connections between what happened in Europe in the 1930s and ’40s and what had happened earlier in the colonies.”

One senses that at last Robins has shifted the heavy stone at the heart of his family history, filled the lacuna of emptiness with commemoration. We are reminded of the words of Philip Larkin in his poem “An Arundel Tomb”: “What will survive of us is love.”

Follow Michele Magwood on Twitter @michelemagwood

Book details

Start working on your bucket list now: Andrew Unsworth reviews Graham Hancock's latest, Magicians of the Gods

By Andrew Unsworth for the Sunday Times

Magicians of the GodsMagicians of the Gods
Graham Hancock (Coronet)
***

Are we silly to worry about climate change when we all will be wiped out by a comet within the next 25 years? That’s the implication of the latest theory from Graham Hancock, the consummate but controversial master of alternative history. He is usually discredited by orthodox historians, astrologers, geologists and a whole slew of academics, but unlike them he writes bestsellers.

One of those is Fingerprints of the Gods, written 20 years ago. In it, Hancock argues that an ancient civilisation was wiped out, leaving behind massive monuments and mysterious buildings, including the earliest temples in Egypt. Members of that ancient civilisation, he argues, were gods to the primitive hunter-gatherers, who survived and kickstarted civilisation again. The monuments left behind carried a message for future generations to be deciphered at a time when they could be understood: that the disaster will happen again – soon.

Now, in Magicians of the Gods, Hancock argues that said ancient civilisation ended when the Earth took a direct hit from a comet 12 800 years ago. The impact threw so much dust and smoke into the atmosphere that it precipitated an ice age that lasted 1 200 years.

Hancock travels the world to explore the monuments to decipher the message: from the scablands of Washington State, to Gunung Padang in Indonesia, to Easter Island to Syria. This message indicates Earth will cross the path of the comet again sometime between 1960 and 2040.

There is new information too, such as the discussion of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, an ancient site first excavated in 1995. Hancock’s writing contains fascinating information and insights but it does not all add up to a lost civilisation. He does not argue that the monolithic blocks of Machu Picchu and Sacsayhuaman in Peru, Baalbek in Lebanon, or the Valley Temple at Giza are remnants of the lost civilisation.

He also never gets round to explaining why there are strange handbags drawn on a pillar at Göbekli Tepe, the same handbags as carried by engraved figures in Babylon and Mexico.

Hancock has been accused of lifting ideas, cherrypicking his evidence to fit with his argument, and ignoring that which does not. He postulates that the lost civilisation was one of high technology, but he never says exactly how advanced. At times one feels overwhelmed by astronomical details. And too often, he refers the reader to his earlier books for more detailed examination of a point. However, whatever his faults, Hancock is a brilliant storyteller.

Book details

Aspiring authors: Don't miss Jacana Media's new creative writing Masterclass series

Invitation to Jacana Media's Writing Masterclasses

 

Jacana Media will be running a series of Masterclasses for aspiring writers in 2016.

All Masterclasses will be held on a Thursday at the Jacana offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, and are held by a published author or publisher.

The cost of the class includes a copy of the author’s latest book.

Diarise these dates now!

Masterclass Details

  • Venue: Jacana Media
    10 Orange Street
    Auckland Park
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Cost: R60 for students and pensioners, R100 for adults (includes a copy of the author’s latest book)
  • RSVP: Janine Daniel, janine@jacana.co.za

Bitches' BrewZulu Boy Gone Crazy: Hilarious Tales Post Polokwane

  • Masterclass Presenter: Fred Khumalo
  • Date: Thursday, 25 February 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
The Book of WarWalk

  • Masterclass Presenter: James Whyle
  • Date: Thursday, 31 March 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
What Will People Say

  • Masterclass Presenter: Rehana Rossouw
  • Date: Thursday, 21 April 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
Dub Steps

  • Masterclass Presenter: Andrew Miller
  • Date: Thursday, 26 May 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
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  • Masterclass Presenter: Klara Skinner
  • Date: Thursday, 30 June 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
Sweet Medicine

  • Masterclass Presenter: Panashe Chigumadzi
  • Date: Thursday, 28 July 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
To Every Birth Its BloodRevelations

  • Masterclass Presenter: Mongane Wally Serote
  • Date: Thursday, 25 August 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
African DelightsWhen a Man Cries

  • Masterclass Presenter: Siphiwo Mahala
  • Date: Thursday, 29 September 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
Book Details