Literary fest to appeal to all senses

‘SPUD’ AUTHOR: John van de Ruit
‘SPUD’ AUTHOR: John van de Ruit

BOOK lovers and some of South Africa’s top authors will descend on the Garden Route next week for the fifth annual Knysna Literary Festival.

Founded by principal of Pam Golding Properties Knysna, Ling Dobson, the festival aims to foster a passion for reading as well as expose residents and visitors to South Africa’s literary talent.

The festival, which takes place between Tuesday and Sunday, attracts well-known authors, poets and performers and includes formats from face-to-face interviews, talks and intimate dinners with authors to lively discussions on a wide range of topics.

“We like to have something universal for people on a political forum, something appealing on a more girlie platform, to excite the historians, conservationists, nutritionists, and never omit a good sense of humour. We want to create an experience that appeals to all the senses,” Dobson said.

Among this year’s highlights will be what has been dubbed the “Fate of the Nation” political panel to be moderated by Knysna local and author of Extreme Environment, Ivo Vegter, and will include former head of the National Prosecuting Authority Vusi Pikoli, who wrote My Second Initiation, as well as investigative journalist and social commentator Max du Preez, who authored Rumour of Spring.

“We also have Reverend Frank Chikane coming to talk about his books The Things That Could Not be Said and Eight Days in September. He will give a tell-all account from behind the scenes in the Mbeki saga [the removal of Thabo Mbeki as president in 2008].”

South Africa’s best-selling author and man behind the Spud series, John van de Ruit, will also speak at the festival on the creation of the books and movies starring John Cleese.

“We have something sassy for the girls with ‘A Lighter Shade of Grey’ workshop with Casey B Dolan and Jassy Mackenzie.

“We will also be talking environmental issues in the ‘Rhino Wars’ discussion, hosted by conservationist and Knysna local Andy Campbell, who will interview investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer and discuss his book, Killing for Profit.”

Some of the questions Rademeyer will touch on, include whether the rhino horn trade should be legalised and why poaching has sky-rocketed in recent years. “In the last four years we’ve lost more than 2200 rhino – seven times the number we lost in the preceding 27 years,” Rademeyer said.

“Illegal rhino horn trading is carried out by criminal networks adept at finding their way around regulations.

“For the syndicate bosses there is little risk, but for the poachers who are often recruited from local villages where there is little work to be found, the risk is high.”

The festival contributes to the local community and donates about 30% of its ticket sale revenue to local charities.

“We run a young writers’ competition.

“When one reads the various entries from the contestants, you are amazed at the maturity and passion with which they tackle this project.

“We also have a pre-competition writing workshop hosted by Professor Rinelle Evans from the University of Pretoria for pupils from schools in Knysna, Sedgefield and Plettenberg Bay.

“This year we received 150 entries.”

The festival takes place at various venues with 12 events and 18 authors taking part.

Visit or call (044)382-5574. – Yolande Stander


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