This year’s Wordfest South Africa, to run for seven days during the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, boasts a programme packed with an extensive variety of genres and event formats, all of which allow the audience to interact with the authors.
Journalist Thandeka Gqubule will launch the biography No Longer Whispering to Power: The Tenure of Thuli Madonsela, and Helen Zille will present her autobiography, Not Without a Fight.
Wordfest convenor Chris Mann said this was the strongest Wordfest yet, featuring several national and international award-winning publications: Nkosinathi Sithole’s Hunger Eats a Man won the Sunday Times Literary Award for fiction last year; and both Darwin’s Hunch by Christa Kuljian and My Own Libertor by Justice Dikgang Moseneke are shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times Literary Award for non-fiction.
The timeless insights of The Book of Joy, placed second on The New York Times bestseller list, will be delved into by Christian and Buddhist representatives.
The launch of Fees Must Fall will be followed by a panel discussion to explore this contentious issue.
Also on offer are interactive workshops including by tax guru Matthew Lester.
Ashwin Desai again demonstrates his versatility with a book about Gandhi in South Africa and Reverse Sweep: A Story of South African Cricket since Apartheid.
Books that do not shy away from controversial issues are given an accessible platform.
Hazel Crampton will lead a discussion on the licensing, legalisation and taxation of dagga in South Africa at the launch of her book, Dagga: a Short History, while Always Anastacia is an intimate autobiography by a medical doctor born male but living as a woman.
Men of the Mendi is an extensively researched account of the controversy surrounding the 100-year tragedy, while newcomer Thando Zono’s rise above debilitating odds in rural South Africa to excel as a competitive hockey player is an equally compelling read.
Pertinent but under-explored is the residual trauma of the 660 000 men who were conscripted over 27 years by the military apparatus during apartheid. Following an evocative production, conscripts will be invited to share their experiences.
Aspiring writers are also catered for with a writing workshop focusing on narrative non-fiction writing. For those who feel ready to have their writing scrutinised in an intimate tutoring session, multiple award-winning Singaporean poet Edwin Thumboo will invite festival-goers to join him for several sessions.
As Wordfest continues to expand, it welcomes a new funder on board this year in the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Wordfest will be held in the Eden Grove building on Rhodes University campus from July 1 to 7. For the full programme visit nationalartsfestival.co.za pages 148 and 149, and click on Think!Fest.