Cradock to host Etienne van Heerden fest
CRADOCK is gaining a reputation as an “event-ful” town, having over the last few years added a Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival and a Slow Food Festival, both of which have been well supported from far and wide.
Now, from September 22 to 24, the Eastern Cape town will also stage the inaugural Etienne van Heerden Literary Festival, to be jointly hosted by Die Tuishuise and Dirosie Game Lodge on the farm Buffelshoek, the last resting place of Olive Schreiner, author of The Story of an African Farm.
The man behind the new festival is Darryl Earl David, who founded the Schreiner festival as well as Booktown Rich- mond and the iconic Book-Bedonnerd Literary Festival.
David is also driving Durban’s bid for Unesco City of Literature status.
“Etienne van Heerden is known as the greatest Afrikaans novelist of his generation and has won virtually every literary prize in South Africa,” David said.
“Both of us share a deep love for the Karoo. He regularly talks about the Karoo as the landscape of the mind; I like to think of the Karoo as the landscape of the heart.”
It is therefore apt that the festival will be held in the childhood world of Van Heerden in Cradock. Buffelshoek is adjacent to the Van Heerden family farm, where this writer spent the greater part of his youth.
Van Heerden’s latest novel, Die Wêreld van Charlie Oeng, has its genesis in Cradock and large portions of it were written in the Etienne van Heerden House at Die Tuishuise, named in honour of one the great wordsmiths of the Karoo.
Some of the highlights of this month’s festival are talks by Van Heerden on the just published novel; a concert in the town’s Moederkerk by television personality and musical maestro Coenie de Villiers; a talk by Hemelbesem, a man who set the Afrikaans literary world alight through his music and recent autobiography God praat Afrikaans; and Cradock’s most underrated poet, Clinton du Plessis, who will launch his new anthology.
English speakers need not feel neglected as David himself will talk on his trilogy of church books that will take one on a photographic journey to the greatest churches of small-town South Africa.
Ashwin Desai will speak twice, once on his critically acclaimed book Shakespeare on Robben Island and the other titled Reverse Sweep, a no-holds barred book about transformation in cricket after democracy.
Bay advocate Barry Pienaar will speak on his recently published book, Freddie Boy, which details why he defend- ed Fred van der Vyver in the famous Inge Lotz trial. There is also a strong Port Elizabeth flavour to the festival, with former university head of Afrikaans Helize van Vuuren and Fogarty Books joining Pienaar in Cradock.
“We’ve marketed this festival as the Etienne van Heerden Veldsoiree because the Karoo landscape and music will be seminal to it,” David said.
On the Saturday afternoon, there will be a pilgrimage to Schreiner’s sarcophagus.
“You cannot call yourself a bibliophile until you have made this pilgrimage,” said David, who considers the Karoo the literary heartland of South Africa. All talks will be free of charge.
BOOK BUZZ: The acclaimed South African author Etienne van Heerden has a long association with the Eastern Cape town of Cradock, where a new festival is being organised to recognise his contribution to literature. Cradock has a vibrant festival tradition and is also known for its Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival in honour of the late Olive Schreiner