José Eduardo Agualusa
José Eduardo Agualusa is an Angolan writer and journalist and one of the leading literary voices in Angola and the Portuguese-speaking world. His novel A General Theory of Oblivion scooped the International Dublin Literary Award and with the substantial prize money he realised his dream to build a library in his adopted home on the Island of Mozambique. His novel, Creole was awarded the Portuguese Grand Prize for Literature and The Book of Chameleons won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. His work reimagines colonial and contemporary histories in Angola, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal and Goa. His is a world of ‘lost orders’, where unfamiliar figures give their passing testimony and are intersected by echoes of past and future times, distant places and writers. José lives between Portugal, Angola and Brazil.
David Attwell is Professor Emeritus at the University of York, where he was Head of the Department of English and Related Literature. He is also Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Western Cape. A teacher, literary critic, and historian of South African literature, his books include J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing, a finalist for the Alan Paton Prize; The Cambridge History of South African Literature, co-edited with Derek Attridge; Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History; and Bury Me at the Marketplace, the collected letters of Es’kia Mphahlele, co-edited with Chabani Manganyi.
Gabeba Baderoon is a poet and scholar and the author of the poetry collections, The Dream in the Next Body, A Hundred Silences, and The History of Intimacy. She is the recipient of the Daimler Award for South African Poetry, the Elisabeth Eybers Poetry Prize, the University of Johannesburg Award for South African Writing and three best book awards from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Gabeba has been awarded numerous writing fellowships. She is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund, and co-directs the African Feminist Initiative at Pennsylvania State University. She is the 2023 Sarah Baartman Senior Fellow at the University of Cape Town, where she is at work on a new book, “The Concussion Diaries.”
Photo by Victor Dlamini
Zeid Baker has a BSc and a B.Ed from the University of Cape Town and is the Principal of South Peninsula High School, with thirty-five years of experience in education and public service. The Baker family has deep roots in Simon’s Town. Zeid’s father, M.A. Baker, was Imam at Noorul Islam Masjied, the Thomas Street Mosque, from 1952 to 1968, during which time he translated the Holy Quran into Afrikaans. Zeid’s talk will explore the personal, religious, and intellectual dimensions of this remarkable achievement. He will share the talk with his nephew Ihsaan Adams, who has written a book on the Baker family. The session will honour those who have helped to shape a proud history, including Adnaan Davids, who followed Imam Baker as Principal of the Madrasa and wrote the book Simon’s Town – Our Heritage.
Born in Durban, Elleke Boehmer is the author, most recently, of the ARB-commended short-story collection To the Volcano, and of the prize-winning fiction The Shouting in the Dark (EASA Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose, 2018). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, UK, and a member of the Dutch Academy of Letters. Elleke Boehmer is a founding figure in the field of postcolonial studies in English and Professor of World Literature at Oxford, where she is also Co-Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. Recent work includes Postcolonial Poetics and Indian Arrivals 1880-1915, which won the biennial ESSE prize. Her biography of Nelson Mandela has been widely translated. Forthcoming work includes Southern Imagining, a history, and a new novel, a love-story.
Mignonne Breier, a former journalist and lecturer, won the 2022 Sunday Times Literary Award for Non-fiction for Bloody Sunday: The Nun, the Defiance Campaign and South Africa’s Secret Massacre. The book traces the consequences of apartheid rule in the coastal town of East London and the complex influences – from African medicine practices to Roman Catholic sacraments – that led to a frenzy of crowd insanity and police brutality on 9 November 1952, and that left Sister Aidan Quinlan murdered. Mignonne was awarded a fellowship at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study to focus on Bloody Sunday. The research was also supported by the Henry Nxumalo Foundation for investigative journalism. Mignonne has published short stories and a memoir, Letters to my Son.
J.M. Coetzee has won the Booker Prize twice (for Life & Times of Michael K and Disgrace) and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003. He is the author of twenty-one works of fiction and five collections of essays. According to the records of Amazwi, the South African Museum of Literature, Coetzee’s body of work is the most written-about in all of South Africa’s literary history. His most recent novel, on the life of a Polish pianist, is The Pole, to be released in English in 2023. It has been released in Spanish translation as el Polaco. Since his retirement from UCT in 2002 Coetzee has lived in Adelaide, Australia.
Karin Cronje is known as a fearless writer who exposes the off-limits with a mix of irony, pathos and humour. She won the Jan Rabie/Rapport Prize for her second novel, Alles mooi weer. Her talent for tongue-in-cheek observations of herself and her world are reflected in her memoir, There goes English Teacher, which narrates Karin’s adventures and misadventures as an English teacher in a small Korean village. It reflects the ‘full catastrophe of being human’. Karin is a former lecturer in the Music Literacy Department at Stellenbosch University. She has dabbled in acting, worked in publishing, and as a journalist. She is now working on shuffling to the end of her days with grace. She hasn’t managed yet.
Photo credit: Roz Misselhorn
Darryl David, maverick extraordinaire. Darryl is the most experienced pioneer of book festivals in South Africa – over the years he has curated more than a hundred. Many are in far-flung areas of the Karoo, such as in Richmond, that fairytale town Darryl branded as Africa’s only Book Town. BookBedonnerd, the book festival there is one of the most joyous festivals around. Darryl also managed against all expectations to have the city of Durban elevated to a Unesco City of Literature and Hermanus to a Unesco City of Gastronomy. Both Unesco projects were firsts on the African continent. David is the author of three coffee table books on Country Churches of South Africa. And he may well be the only Indian lecturer of Afrikaans in Africa.
Finuala Dowling is a multiple award-winning poet and novelist living in Muizenberg. She won the Ingrid Jonker Prize for I Flying the Sanlam Prize for DooWop Girls of the Universe the Olive Schreiner Prize for Notes from the Dementia Ward and the M-Net Prize for Homemaking for the Down-at-Heart. Her six novels include The Fetch, Okay, Okay, Okay, and The Man who Loved Crocodile Tamers, a fictionalised account of her father’s life.
Justin Fox is a travel writer, novelist and photographer, and was until recently editor of Getaway magazine. His World War II novels, The Cape Raider and The Wolf Hunt, are set in Simon’s Town. Justin has a long history with Simon’s Town. He spent his childhood holidays here, getting to know and love the area and did his national service in the Navy. He is the author of more than 20 books. Some of the recent titles include The Marginal Safari, Whoever Fears the Sea, The Impossible Five and Beat Routes. His articles and photographs have appeared internationally in a number of publications (he is a two-time Mondi journalism award winner), while his short stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies.
Damon Galgut won the 2021 Booker Prize for The Promise. He published his first novel, A Sinless Season, when he was seventeen. A short story collection, Small Circle of Beings, was followed by the novels The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs and The Quarry. The Good Doctor won the 2003 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region) and was shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. His later novels were In a Strange Room, also shortlisted for the 2010 Booker, and Arctic Summer, a fictionalised account of E.M. Forster’s relationships in wartime Alexandria and India.
Jan Glazewski is Emeritus Professor in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Law at the University of Cape Town. Blood and Silver: A Memoir is, as the cover of the book makes clear, “a true story of surviving and a son’s search for his family treasure”. Jan weaves a complex, riveting tale about his family fleeing Europe and making a life for themselves on the southern tip of Africa and his own struggles with haemophilia and HIV. It includes his contribution to writing the environment right in the South African Constitution, and his quest to locate a hoard of silver buried in Ukraine. Jan lives in McGregor where he grows vegetables and communes with his four chickens.
Denis Hirson is a South African author who has lived in France since 1975. He has written both poetry and prose, and lately a memoir, My Thirty-Minute Bar Mitzvah. It is a beautifully written account of family and of his thirteenth birthday, set against the menacing backdrop of 1960s Johannesburg. His work explores the memory of the apartheid years while delving into wider ancestral and political themes. His books include the bestsellers The House Next Door to Africa and I Remember King Kong (The Boxer). He translates Breyten Breytenbach’s poetry into English and is the editor of anthologies of short stories and poetry. Footnotes for a Panther is a collection of conversations between William Kentridge and Denis that explores issues arising from Kentridge’s work.
Ingrid de Kok
Ingrid de Kok is one of South Africa’s foremost poets. Her work is widely translated, appears in anthologies and journals around the world and is studied at numerous institutions. She has published six poetry collections and the English poems for the 2022 children’s book Vetplant Fairies, a collaboration with poet Antjie Krog and illustrator Fiona Moodie. Her awards include a Herman Charles Bosman award, a SALA award and the Ritratti di Poesia Prize in Rome. The Khula Cape Foundation awarded her a Molteno Gold Medal for “a sustained body of poems of exceptional integrity and power over many decades, making up an invaluable contribution to the literatures of South Africa.” She has just completed a manuscript provisionally entitled Sister Ship.
Antjie Krog is an Afrikaans poet, writer, journalist and Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Western Cape. She is well known for her reporting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She published thirteen volumes of Afrikaans poetry with four volumes in English translation: Down to my Last Skin, Body Bereft, Synapse and Pillage. She also published three non-fiction books about the transition in South Africa: Country of my Skull, about the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission; A Change of Tongue, Begging to be Black. She has been awarded many prestigious awards locally and internationally for poetry, non-fiction, journalism and translation.
Photo by Brenda Veldtman
Herman Lategan’s life is not for the faint-hearted. Before becoming an award winning journalist and writing his memoir, Hoerkind, a gripping and shocking tale of a child born out of wedlock in the sixties and called the child of a whore and a bastard, he studied drama, worked as a grape harvester, a bouncer, for the post office, an art gallery, and a waiter and radio actor. He used to walk the streets of Sea Point, his heimat, as a moffie flâneur, but now prefers pubs with miserable people. Dangerous alleys, men with knives and the potential of his own death excite him. Herman has written several short stories and published English and Afrikaans poetry. His next project is a novel.
Wahbie Long is the author of Nation on the Couch: Inside South Africa’s Mind. It was longlisted for both the NIHSS and Sunday Times non-fiction awards. This book draws on psychoanalytic theory in order to understand South Africa. Wahbie is Professor in the Department of Psychology, and Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Cape Town. He has held fellowships at Harvard and Durham Universities, and received the Early Career Achievement Award in 2016 from the Society for the History of Psychology. Wahbie has published in numerous journals. His previous book, A History of ‘Relevance’ in Psychology traces the emergence of questions about ‘relevance’ in the discipline since the 1960s.
Sindiwe Magona, author, poet, playwright, essayist, storyteller, actor and inspirational speaker has written two collections of short stories, two autobiographies, four novels and childrens books. Her work has been translated in a number of African languages, Italian and Korean. Sindiwe’s novel, Mother to Mother, a fictionalized account of the Amy Biehl killing, was adapted into a play and performed at the Baxter Theatre. Her novel Beauty’s Gift was shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Africa Region. After her return to South Africa from the United Nations where she worked for more than two decades, she started the Gugulethu Writers’ Group. Sindiwe is currently the writer-in-residence at the University of the Western Cape.
Kirby van der Merwe
Kirby van der Merwe is an award-winning journalist, and a visual artist and writer of short stories, poems, essays and radio dramas. He translated the novels of amongst others Chris van Wyk, Carol Campbell and Zoë Wicomb into Afrikaans. His recent and long-awaited novel, Eugene pieces together a family history and a hundred years of racial injustice and community life into richly imagined and evocative fiction. In manuscript form it was third in the Groot Afrikaanse Roman Wedstryd. His debut novel, Klapperhaar slaap nie stil nie, established him as a major voice in Afrikaans. Kirby divides his time between writing and art. He is currently preparing for a solo exhibition of trauma-paintings by the fictional character Eugene.
Barbara Mutch’s first of three novels, The Housemaid’s Daughter, became a bestseller and was translated into 14 languages. The Girl from Simon’s Bay has equally gripped readers. It features a wartime Simon’s Town, a British naval officer, a local nurse and their forbidden romance. During the writing of this book she lived in Simon’s Town and writing the book was like unearthing the history beneath her feet. Barbara headed to the Karoo for her next novel, The Fire Portrait, which features an English botanical artist settling in a remote hamlet amongst a community whose language she doesn’t speak. Barbara was born and bred in South Africa. She now lives with her family in the UK, but spends time whenever possible in the Cape.
Sonwabiso Ngcowa writes for teens and adults. He is a versatile writer who has written short stories, a novel and a work of non-fiction. He challenges cultural and traditional norms. His novel, In Search of Happiness, was inspired by the murder of a young woman because she was a lesbian. He has also written about forced marriages of young girls to older men. 21 at 21: The Coming of Age of a Nation is a collaboration with Melanie Verwoerd. It is a collection of the life stories of people born in 1994. The brutally honest voices of these 21-year-olds, challenging and disturbing, as well as funny and hopeful, give an invaluable insight into modern day South Africa.
Futhi Ntshingila is a former journalist and the author of three novels. She won the Sharjah International Book Fair Prize 2022 for They Got To You Too. Futhi has a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution and uses her skills to look for the unsaid in dominant narratives and excavate the silenced voices. She is passionate about the preservation of memory of women whose stories have been historically ignored. She does extensive historical research and layers that with her imagination to give voice to women’s experiences that are likely to be forgotten. Some of her stories come from very personal experiences, but despite the difficult lives many of her characters live, they project no aura of victimhood.
André Odendaal is the vice-chancellor’s writer-in-residence and honorary professor in history and heritage studies at the University of the Western Cape. He has written numerous books on the history of the liberation struggle and the social history of sport in South Africa. His most recent book is Dear Comrade President: Oliver Tambo and the Foundations of South Africa’s Constitution. For this he drew on the personal archives of participants in the think tank set up by Oliver Tambo to formulate principles and draft outlines for a constitution that could unite South Africa when the time came to talk. André started and directed the Mayibuye Centre for History and Culture in South Africa and was the founding director of the Robben Island Museum.
Investigative journalist, Jacques Pauw is well known for exposing the underworld that allegedly kept Zuma in power in The President’s Keepers. His most recent book, Our Poisoned Land, delves into top police officers who allegedly had a hand in state capture and are still in the Hawks and police’s Crime Intelligence. Jacques was an executive producer of the current affairs programme Special Assignment. His documentary films investigated criminal activities in southern Africa’s underworld, including the police death squads in South Africa. He is the author of In the Heart of the Whore, Into the Heart of Darkness, Dances with Devils, Rat Roads and Little Ice Cream Boy. He has won numerous international awards, including, twice, CNN’s African Journalist of the Year.
Chase Rhys is a novelist, columnist, playwright and screenwriter from Ocean View. Their second book, Misfit – stories vannie anne kant is a compilation of new and reworked stories from their biweekly column in Rapport newspaper and Netwerk24. Set in Ocean View and the Far South they are written from Chase’s perspective as an autistic, queer, non-binary misfit. Their award winning play, Kinnes, an adaptation from Chase’s first novel by the same name won the K. Sello Duiker Prize and the kykNET-Rapport Prize and ran for two seasons at Artscape Theatre. It tells the story of four young people on the brink of adulthood who are doing their best to achieve their ambitions while living in the war-zone of the Cape Flats.
Jo-Anne Richards is an internationally published novelist with a PhD in Creative Writing from Wits University. Jo-Anne has published five novels, her latest being The Imagined Child published by Picador. Her first novel, The Innocence of Roast Chicken was originally published by Headline Review in the UK, and has recently been released as one of the prestigious Picador Africa Heritage Collection. Formerly a lecturer at Wits University, Jo-Anne is co-founder of the creative writing training company, All About Writing.
Nancy Richards, journalist, columnist, founder of NPO Woman Zone and well known broadcaster, will be remembered by many who listened to her radio shows over twenty odd years on SAfm – most especially SAfm Literature in which she spoke to hundreds of authors of all genres. And during which time she learnt a whole lot about the art and craft of writing – some of which she has put into practice in her own book The Skipper’s Daughter. She recounts her mother’s sea faring voyage at the age of 16 which ended in tragedy. In Nancy’s gentle yet incisive style she faithfully brings her mother’s voice to life in a legacy tale that is intimate and revealing.
Henrietta Rose-Innes is a novelist, short-story writer and translator. She is the author or four novels, including Nineveh and Green Lion, and two collections of short stories, Homing and Animalia Paradoxa. Her work has been widely published and translated. “Without contest among the most important voices of the new South African literature.” – Le Monde. Her awards include the Caine Prize for African Writing; the French-language Francois Sommer Literary Prize, and she was the runner-up in The BBC International Short Story Competition. She has been a fellow at various international writing residencies, and has acted as judge in several writing competitions. Henrietta holds a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia.
Fred de Vries
Fred de Vries is a Dutch writer/journalist who moved to South Africa in 2003. He has nine non-fiction books to his name. His first major work was Club Risiko, a look into the underground music of the 1980s. Next came The Fred de Vries Interviews; From Abdullah to Zille, an overview of conversations with South African cultural movers and shakers. In 2012 he wrote about the post-1994 fate of the Afrikaners, a work which was translated into Afrikaans as Rigtingbedonnerd. He subsequently published books about Oscar Pistorius and Rotterdam. In May 2021 Penguin Random House launched his latest work, Blues for the White Man, a journey into the roots of music and racism in America’s Deep South and South Africa.