What to See at Franschhoek Literary Festival 2018

13 Apr 2018
What to See at Franschhoek Literary Festival 2018

The 2018 Franschhoek Literary Festival takes over the Western Cape town in the middle of next month, and with so much on the programme (and so many PEN SA members to see!), it might be difficult to figure out what’s worth going to. And with so many events featuring the big names being sold out, you might be looking for a worthwhile second choice.

Here’s our staff’s pick of great events to see, including many of our members, with a sprinkling of fascinating poetry readings, discussions and workshops you might have otherwise overlooked.

Event numbers are given in square brackets. The full programme of events is available on the FLF website. Tickets may be booked via Webtickets.


  • [3] What it takes to fill a page 
    10 a.m., Church Hall
    Research, pacing, procrastination, expletives and wine. Times columnist Darrel Bristow-Bovey exposes the realities of writing the next 300 words with Mick Herron (This is What Happened), Henrietta Rose-Innes (Nineveh, Green Lion) and Claire Robertson (Under Glass).
  • [5] Ahmed Kathrada: The Andre Brink Memorial Lecture 
    10 a.m., Council Chamber
    Writer and activist Elinor Sisulu reflects on the life and times of activist Ahmed Kathrada – as reader, thinker and writer. Introduction by Karina Szczurek (The Fifth Mrs Brink).
  • [7] What does feminism look like in 2018?
    10 a.m., Travellers Lodge
    Mohale Mashigo (The Yearning) investigates the challenges and successes of modern feminism with Jen Thorpe (Feminism Is), Helen Moffett (Feminism Is) and social commentator Tshegofatso Senne.
  • [11] So, what’s new? 
    11:30 a.m., Old School Hall
    When they’re repeatedly observed and exposed, how does one find a new angle on the public figures that influence our lives. Pieter du Toit (Enemy of the People), Zapiro (Hasta la Gupta, Baby) and Prince Mashele (The Fall of the ANC Continues) discuss their unique approaches, with Victor Dlamini.
  • [17a] WORKSHOP: Archival detritus – memory excavation beyond fact
    11:30 a.m., Library
    Facts and figures are not words we associate with poetry, but they can be powerful links to theme and memory. Jolyn Phillips and Karin Schimke introduce writers to ways of gathering information for poems. R150 through Webtickets.
  • [19] When characters take on a life of their own 
    1 p.m., Old School Hall
    Who holds the most power in story and character development: the author or the hero? Helen Moffett asks Deon Meyer (Fever), Achmat Dangor (Dikeledi) and Gregg Hurwitz (Orphan X series).
  • [22] How it felt *
    1 p.m., Council Chambers
    History gives us the facts; fiction takes over to help us understand, cope with, and be motivated by the past. Editor and author Fred Khumalo discusses with Mzuvukile Maqetuka (Camdeboo Stories), Joyce Kotze (Beyond Forgiveness) and Claire Robertson.
  • [24] How I see it 
    1 p.m., Hospice Hall
    Their ability to try thoughts on like ideological garments is what makes Hedley Twidle (Firepool), Sisonke Msimang (Always Another Country) and Irish poet Joseph Woods (Monsoon Diary) consummate writers. Critical thinker Jacques Rousseau explores how they do it.
  • [42] Like branches on a tree… 
    4 p.m., Hospice Hall
    Storytellers Nolubabalo Rani, Gilly Southwood and Philippa Kabali-Kagwa will entrance you with their telling of folktales and personal stories that explore our diversity and common humanity. Perfect for the whole family.
  • [46] How to be alone: adventures in creativity and solitude 
    6 p.m., Church Hall
    In early 2018 Darrel Bristow-Bovey moved to Ikaria, a remote Greek island in the north-eastern Aegean where average life-expectancy is over 100, to learn if it’s possible to disconnect from the modern world, and whether being less connected means being happier and more creative. In a talk that ranges between neuroscience, the Apocalypse, The Little Prince, mindfulness, Greek myths and the virtues of the afternoon nap, Darrel discusses saving your life by switching off your phone, and how far you have to go to find yourself. R100 through Webtickets.



  • [54] The birth and life of Soweto 
    10 a.m., Elephant and Barrel
    Novelist Niq Mhlongo (Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree) and journalist Lauren Segal share their memories, writings and observations of one South Africa’s most vibrant and historically rich communities with Ekow Duker.
  • [49] The enemies of democracy 
    10 a.m., New School Hall
    Jacques Rousseau discusses the scourge of institutional patriarchy, corruption and infighting with Prince Mashele, Pallo Jordan (Letters to my Comrades), and Ronnie Kasrils (A Simple Man).
  • [59] Finding our way 
    11:30 a.m., Old School Hall
    In this time of distrust and betrayal, how do we find our own ethical compass to navigate a way through an often-leaderless landscape? Ralph Mathekga, Mark Heywood and Sisonke Msimang discuss, with Ray Hartley (Ramaphosa: The Man Who Would be King) leading the discussion.
  • [72] Poetry 1. Writing woman as subject and object (Only R30!) 
    1 p.m., Elephant and Barrel
    Local poet Megan Ross and Irish poet Joseph Woods share their works and thoughts on the women who influence their writing, and how women write as an act of resistance. R30 through Webtickets.
  • [77] Poetry 2. The Threshold Between (Only R30!) 
    2 p.m., Elephant and Barrel
    Join Tony Ullyatt and Michèle Betty in an examination of poets breaching the boundaries and thresholds in poetry and language in search of transformation. R30 through Webtickets.
  • [71] The family way
    1 p.m., Council Chambers
    Secrets, bonds, and expectations are the glue that hold the story together while threatening the hero’s journey. Bridget Hilton-Barber chats with Barbara Boswell (Grace), Steven Boykey Sidley and Maya Fowler (Patagonia).
  • [80] After the debut 
    2:30 p.m., Church Hall
    The first novel gets all the hype, so you would think the next book would be a breeze, right? Niq Mhlongo, Deon Meyer and Nicolas Fargues reveal the pitfalls to Mohale Mashigo.
  • [88] From the truth to the tale 
    4 p.m., Old School Hall
    Delving into the facts to create the fiction is its own adventure. Maya Fowler, Kate Furnivall and Rahla Xenopoulos share their research journeys with Finuala Dowling.
  • [92] Poetry 4. They f*ck you up, your Mum and Dad… (Only R30!) 
    4 p.m., Elephant and Barrel
    … as Philip Larkin proclaimed. Is writing about family an act of love or betrayal, and why do we find it irresistible? Beverly Rycroft (A Private Audience), Karin Schimke (Navigate) and Kerry Hammerton (Secret Keeper) discuss, and read from their latest collections. R30 through Webtickets.


  • [100] As we discussed
    10 a.m., New School Hall
    Biographers give the facts, but how do they and their subjects decide what to share and what not to? Wamuwi Mbao debates the issues of veracity and trust with Eric Naki, Sibusiso Mjikeliso and Redi Tlhabi.
  • [113] Shedding light
    11:30 a.m., Elephant and Barrel
    Death is inevitable. Award-winning Irish poet Joseph Woods share his insights on the thing many fear most with Nick Mulgrew.
  • [120] Dear reader
    1 p.m., Council Chamber
    Savvy writers balance character development with knowing what the reader wants. Fiona Snyckers, Nicolas Fargues, and Angela Makholwa discuss how they make this work, with Kate Sidley.
  • [121] The craft of the essay
    1 p.m., Elephant and Barrel
    Michèle Betty explores how Kalim Rajab and Hedley Twidle are able to offer such astute insights, so richly expressed in their respective writing and editing.
  • [122] The Cradock Four
    1 p.m., Hospice Hall
    Lukhanyo Calata (son of Fort Calata), his wife Abigail Calata (co-author My Father Died for This), and Ronnie Kasrils share this family’s rich history with Oscar van Heerden.

(Image by Nick Mulgrew)