Get ready for Wordfest
A huge pack of writers and thinkers are heading to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown to present and debate at Wordfest – the book festival within the arts festival – that runs from July 1 to 7.
“Wordfest provides a platform for new talent and a diversity of voices, drawing on the over 50 000 festivalgoers who flock to Grahamstown every year,” say the organisers.
It’s the big names, hot-potato issues and bestsellers that fill the auditorium at Eden Grove, so who should fest visitors be looking out for this year?
Seasoned journalist Thandeka Gqubule’s new book, No Longer Whispering to Power: The Story of Thuli Madonsela, is a labour of love and wonderful writing, with proceeds going to help fund students in their studies. She’ll be in town to launch the book and discuss it.
Nkosinathi Sithole’s debut novel, Hunger Eats a Man, about rural life in South Africa, won the Sunday Times fiction award. Catch him at Wordfest.
What a moment: Justice Dikgang Moseneke’s My Own Liberator and Justice Albie Sachs’ We, the People both come up for discussion – and the two elders will each lead a session on the other’s book. Lessons to be learnt abound.
The Dalai Lama and Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Joy spent good time on the bestseller lists. It’s a record of conversations between the two Nobel peace prize laureates.
Discussing the book are Dr Vicentia Kgabe, rector of the Anglican College of Transfiguration and Buddhist Professor Anton Krueger.
Helen Zille will be in town too, talking about Not Without a Fight, an autobiography rated as one of the best written by a South African.
A recent book, Fees Must Fall, edited by Professor Susan Booysen, will be unpacked by a panel that includes Professor Barney Pityana, Professor David Everatt, Professor Ashwin Desai and student Sanele kaNtshingana.
Always Anastacia is an intimate autobiography by a medical doctor, Anastacia Tomson, born male but living as a woman and offers a nuanced understanding of what it means to be transgender.
Fatima Meer: Memories of Love and Struggle is an important and intimate biography of Fatima Meer. A discussion will be led by the editor of the work, Shamim Meer, daughter of the revolutionary struggle hero.
Rhodes University also facilitates Wordfest as an outreach and community engagement project, “hosting around 100 multilingual writers from urban and outlying areas of the Eastern Cape”. At one joyful session Eastern Cape writers and imbongis will share poems and prose in isiXhosa, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. Wordfest is held in the Eden Grove building on Rhodes University campus. All events are one hour and cost R25, unless stipulated otherwise For the full programme and times, visit nationalartsfestival.co.za or the Wordfest Facebook page at Wordfest South Africa