Cradock to host Eti­enne van Heer­den fest

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - TRAVEL -

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

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